Walter Mencken 2 p.m., May 28
Afternoon Sun and Lunch at Savory Deli
The primacy of the burrito as the lunch item of record in SD remains unthreatened, but there are some delightful alternatives to be had for those in the market for lunch on the quick. At Savory Deli in University Heights, the eminently classy "soup and sandwich" combination is alive and well and worth exploring.
The little shop at the corner of Adams Avenue and Park Boulevard has been open for a couple of years now, but seems to fly mostly under the radar, largely due to the 900 pound gorilla (i.e. El Zarape) across the street. Still, Savory brings a certain kind of European vibration to the area and, on nice days, boasts generous afternoon sun on the sidewalk seating; something that's hard to come by on the other side of the road, particularly at this time of year.
Savory offers a few kinds of soups, and the Spanish lentil stew with ham and spinach is quite robust. Its broth is heady with herbs and spices, and there is plenty of ham and abundant lentils so that the soup is filling enough that it could be a meal in itself. Also available, a soupe au pistou is a southern French mixture described as "akin to minestrone" and comprised of beans and vegetables in a vegetable stock. Soups are $3.29 for a small, $5.99 for a large.
The variety of available sandwiches is impressive considering the small size of the store. An entire selection of piadina sandwiches feature freshly baked, Roman style flatbreads that occupy a culinary niche somewhere between Indian naan and flour tortillas. Filled with (among others) the iconic combination of prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, and basil; or with manchego cheese and quince paste for a vegetarian option; the piadina sandwiches are light and fresh tasting, and suitable for following a hearty lentil stew. They cost about $7.50.
For only $3.50, the "Euro Sandwich" has ham, salami, Gruyere cheese, and a light vinaigrette on six inches of bread. It also comes with a strong injunction against additional condiments (though the staff will augment the dish for an extra fifty cents), and what could be more Euro than that?
Overall, the soup and sandwich experience at Savory can be a welcome change since, to hazard a guess, quality sandwiches are probably outnumbered 7:1 by quality tacos in the average San Diegan's dining schedule. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se, but it's good for the soul to act Euro from time to time. Maybe drink a little mineral water, and snack on some good cheese next time urge to lunch arises.
4661 Park Boulevard