Review: Club Deli, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

May 21, 2009

- See all 763 of my articles

1 Comment

Club Deli is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  As the name may suggest, the main fare consists of deli sanwiches, although they always have two soups cooking (one of which is chili), as well as pasta.  Cookies are available for guests with a sweet tooth.

Customer service

I eat at Club Deli perhaps once every two weeks, and sometimes the gaps are even longer.  Nonetheless, the guy behind the counter always knows what I want – 1/2 a #17 (ham and swiss) on croissant.  The half sandwiches are a good size, expecially if you’re having soup with your sandwich.  When the sandwhich gets passed along to the gal who does the toppings, she usually knows the correct toppings as well – mayo, onions, salt, pepper, and a pickle spear on the side.  I’m not an exception, either – they remember these details for everyone in my group – quite impressive.  The guy who serves as order taker and meat and cheese provider often tries (jokingly) to convince me to change my predictable order to something different.  Nope – there’s no point messing up a good thing.

Quality ingredients

Many delis use meats and cheese that are pre-sliced.  At least one large national chain even has the meats in pre-measured quantities.  There is none of this at Club Deli.  When you order your sandwich, they slice the meat and cheese right there.  I’m particularly fond of the swiss cheese.  I’m a big fan of swiss cheese, and it can be hard to find in a lot of places, with many delis using provolone as their token “white cheese”.  The sandwiches cost a bit more than you would pay at one of the fast food sub places, but the fresh, high quality ingredients more than offset the cost difference.

The chili is flat out awesome.  There are hundreds of different ways to make chili, and the chili at Club is made precisely the way I like it.  If you’re ever at Club Deli, definitely give the chili a try – you won’t regret it.

Other cool stuff

You just might bump into a celebrity.  A few months ago, we were eating our lunch and college wrestling legend Dan Gable walked in.  Gable lost only one bout in college at Iowa State (in the national title match as a senior).  He then ran roughshod over the competition in the 1972 Munich Olympics en route to a gold medal.  He followed this up by building a college wrestling juggernaut at the University of Iowa (to the dismay of Iowa State alums).  Wrestling is not my favorite sport, but since Iowa has two great wrestling programs, I do pay attention to it.  Seeing a living legend was very cool.  Nope, I didn’t bug him for an autograph.

If you didn’t have a cookie earlier – or even if you did – you can buy some candy as you leave.  Toss a couple of quarters into the jar and snag some chocolate or even a Tootsie Pop.  Does anything chase down ham, swiss cheese, and chili better than chocolate?


Restaurant Review: Monical’s Pizza

April 25, 2009

- See all 763 of my articles

1 Comment

First, I’d like to welcome the new readers who came here via The Digerati Life. Read the current articles, explore the archives, and consider becoming a subscriber. We’ve been pretty sports-heavy in the last week – if you look through the archives, you’ll see that we’re usually a lot more eclectic.

Second, I am happy to announce the release of my new eBook – Selling Yourself Short – An Introduction to Short Story Writing. Selling Yourself Short is a 2500 word introduction to the process of short story writing – from creating your writing environment to developing the plot. In an effort to keep this handy guide affordable to all of our readers, the everyday price is just $1.49. However, for the next week, the price is just 99 cents. Don’t like it? There’s a money back guarantee! Buy it today at the Hyrax Publications store.

And now, on to this vintage article – a review of my favorite restaurant in the whole world.


I find myself in the situation of living several hours away from my favorite restaurant, the result of a move six years ago.  If you ever find yourself in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin, look up Monical’s Pizza.  You’ll be glad you did.

I travel into Monical’s country exactly once a year on a business trip.  After checking into my hotel, I always make a beeline for Monicals.  I also try to hit it at least one other time during the trip.  On my most recent trip, I ate there three times.

The menu at Monical’s features pizza, of course.  You can also get pasta and sandwiches.  I almost always get the pizza, but I’ve also had the spaghetti and meatballs, which are quite good.

Over the years, I have refined my order and have it down to a science.  I get the Individual Pleaser (a combo meal that includes a pizza, salad, and soft drink).  I choose the 8″ thin crust pizza topped with bacon, ham, hamburger, steak, green peppers, and premium blend cheese (a mozzarella/cheddar mix).  I get the salad sans tomatoes and carrots due to an intolerance of vegetables.

The salad comes out immediately.  In my case, simply lettuce topped with shredded cheese.  I’m not a big fan of salads, but the Monical’s salads are always good.  The lettuce is always quite fresh.  The best part of the salad, however, is the french dressing.  Monical’s has quite simply the best french dressing in the world.  If you don’t believe me, go to their web site and order a few bottles.  Unlike a lot of restaurants which give you only a small bit of dressing, Monical’s brings a bottle to the table and lets you use as much as you want.

The construction of my salad is an art.  First, I picked up the entire salad with one hand and hold the bottle in the other hand, laying down a solid base layer of dressing.  Then I drop 1/3 of the lettuce into the bowl and put down another layer of dressing.  By the time I am finished, the lettuce is swimming in the dressing – just as God intended.

When the pizza comes out, it is hot and crispy.  It isn’t burnt, but it’s just on the brink – at the exact level of crispiness that gives the crust a perfect taste.  My particular pizza presents a small problem.  I have a lot of meat toppings, and this gives to toppings a slickness that makes is difficult for the toppings to adhere to the crust.  I fight a small war against the pizza, attempting to take bites that contain equal bits of crust and topping.  Overall, I win the war, but I do lose a few battles, and some of the toppings slide off the crust just as I take a bite.

So the food is great, but what about the people?  Honestly, I’m not sure where they find their employees.  In the overall retail world, it seems that employees have become fairly rude.  This has never been the case when I have eaten at Monicals.  I have always found their employees to be extremely polite and friendly.

OK, but surely the high quality food and good service come at a price, right?  Yep.  I spend the incredible sum of $8.82 on my meal – a pizza with 6 toppings, salad, and soft drink.  I could spend almost that much on a burger at a fast food joint and get only a fraction of the enjoyment.

Is there a regional chain in you’re area that you’re a big fan of?  Tell me about it.