I love delis. With the plethora of sandwich and soup choices they usually offer, and yummy cold sides like coleslaw, potato salad, etc., a deli is simply the perfect place for a quick dose of midday comfort food, the ideal lunch spot for workaholics on the run.
As you may have noticed, real sandwich shops aren't exactly a dime a dozen in J-town (I am, of course, not counting fast food or burger joints). If you're lucky, you'll run into one or two in some shopping malls or the restaurant rows of South Jakarta, and most of them are quite decent, but seldom are their offerings mind-blowing.
My never-ending quest for the perfect sandwich led me to a new shop recently opened in Cilandak Town Square, South Jakarta. It had a promising name: "Double Decker Deli", and it had the look of your everyday American deli, with it's cramped space, tunnel like interior, glass display cases containing all kinds of pastry and luncheon meat, tables and chairs tucked in to every possible nook of the shop, and a decent selection of newspapers and magazines to read while waiting for or eating your meal.
So one day, a bit after the lunch crowd had come and gone, I decided to hit this new deli with a few friends. As I walked in there was a bit of confusion; no server was there to guide us to our table, so after a half a minute of standing around, I immediately assumed that the service was done in true deli style, which meant we had to place our orders at the counter.
At the counter, I was greeted with the backs of a couple of employees who seemed totally oblivious of my existence until I gently called out to one of them. She turned, smiled, but didn't say anything, so I asked her in Bahasa Indonesia, "is this where we order?" she nodded and then scooted off to God knows where.
Dumbfounded, my friends and I just stood there waiting for something to happen, and a few minutes later, a guy in a server's uniform appeared with menus. As we took the menus, this waiter also scooted off to the seemingly mysterious land behind the counter. Ordering food here feels like negotiating a peace treaty with a bunch of guerrillas, I thought to myself.
One of my companions, frustrated by this lack of clear service, grabbed the nearest table and sat down. We joined her.
We were handed two kinds of menus, one featuring sandwiches, appetizers, and drinks and one featuring the many kinds of pasta they serve with various sauces you can choose to have with your pasta. After perusing the sandwich menu, my heart sank. There were less than a dozen types of sandwiches and nowhere does it say on the menu that you get to choose the type of bread you want on your sandwich. To make things even more disheartening for any sandwich lover, was the absence of the must-have American deli staple: "The Reuben Sandwich" with its divine blend of pastrami and sauerkraut. There wasn't even a single item on the menu that contained pastrami. How blasphemous!
After a few minutes of griping about what wasn't on the menu, we decided to pick something out of what was there.
A few items interested me, mainly the "Pretzel Mania" (ham and prosciutto on a lightly toasted large soft pretzel), so I went for that one, along with fried mushrooms for an appetizer. One of my companions opted for the dish called "Arnold's" (grilled homemade bratwurst with saut