On a recent rainy Monday, the colorful interior of Be’Wiched Deli beckoned hungry lunch patrons looking for a place to dry out and grab a sandwich. Crowded tables turned over so quickly that the staff had little time to sweep the crumbs off the tabletops in between diners. So what is it about this North Loop deli that drove so many through its doors that gloomy day? We examine the phenomenon through three case studies:
Case study #1 — Soup
A potato-leek soup with green tomato chutney earned a place on the daily soup roster that day. Served with a slice of cheese-topped focaccia, the soup’s extreme butteriness reflected the flavor of the Yukon Gold potatoes that must have been the main ingredient. The chutney, however, had either been stirred into the soup and disappeared completely or was omitted altogether. Still, the soup was smooth going down and fit the bill for a rain-soaked day.
Case study #2 — Sandwich
Occupying the space on Washington Ave. N. and Eighth St. that used to house C. McGee’s Deli, Be’Wiched has mainly used its gourmet sandwiches to differentiate itself from its predecessor. While the meats are the same (ham, pastrami, turkey, etc.), the Be’Wiched team of Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan smoke and cure many of their offerings in house. You can’t get that TLC feeling from a typical deli sandwich. Topped with upscale cheeses and veggies, these sandwiches are worth their slightly heftier price tag. The asparagus sandwich with fromage blanc and black pepper-glazed fennel is a stand-out, while the poached chicken ranks high for flavor but lower for sheer logistical eatability. With large chunks of meat tumbling out of the baguette onto the plate, this isn’t the sandwich to choose if you’re out to impress someone with your dining grace (i.e. job interview, first date).
Case study #3 — Salad
Potato salad lovers can rejoice — fans of the picnic side will relish Be’Wiched’s version featuring capers and boiled eggs. The kitchen fares worse with beans, however. A white bean salad with chicken, green beans, and hot mustard would have been a hit if the beans had been more than half-cooked. Instead, look toward the spinach salad with smoked apple, brie, and pecans — it proves you don’t need bacon to make a spinach salad worth savoring.
Though not every dish is consistent, Be’Wiched is a comforting lunch choice for any day, rainy or sunny. If the three case studies above aren’t convincing, one taste of its Valrhona chocolate brownie might be the tipping point. Dense and fudgy, more like an enormous piece of flourless chocolate cake than a brownie, the dessert is hard to resist when you’re paying your bill and notice it waving to you from the counter.
Upscale deli in the North Loop
800 Washington Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401
OWNERS / CHEFS: Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes/No
ENTREE RANGE: $6.50-$13.50 for sandwiches, $3.50-6 for soups and salads