Wednesday, September 30, 2009

two minute lunch: southern railway deli

Two Minute Lunch is a series I'm starting. I work in downtown Richmond and know I'll be sampling many of the area lunch spots. Here I'll chronicle my lunches and give recommendations. I'm hoping to just spend a few minutes per post giving my thoughts and I hope the short format based around something I do often will encourage frequent posting. There won't be a set day for Two Minute Lunch 'cause, well, my life just doesn't work like that. Leave suggestions for places I should try in the comments.

Wandering around downtown I spied three young men my age with Southern drawls and blue striped shirts carrying bags of chips and Styrofoam cups that clearly had sweet tea. I knew I needed to find where they had come from and soon enough stumbled upon Southern Railway Deli.

The entrance was unassuming enough and I figured it to be a small in-and-out type place. The inside was much larger than expected and the menu was expansive. Set up cafetoria style, there is a row of different food stations, a check out and a seating area with mix-matched furniture. The place was clean with bright orange pillars and accents. Because of its large size, the lunch-time rush didn't feel to overwhelming (or maybe that's just the difference in Richmond and DC.)

After perusing what looked like good (though premade) deli sandwiches and paninis, I found the salad bar. They offer your choice of mixed greens, spinach or iceberg with one meat, one cheese, and five toppings (but don't charge for croutons, sunflower seeds, nuts or crasins.) Much more resonable than most places. There was no line so I quickly stepped up and started ordering. The veggie selection was solid and I probably should have been a little more adventerous than I was. The woman behind me was disappointed that they were out of avocado, but I was mostly just excited they offer avocado without charging extra.

When I went to stand in line, the woman in front of me had huge bowl of delicious looking pasta. I usually check out all options before ordering and it turns out I had missed the hot line with burgers and the make-your-own pasta line! Still, my salad was solid, particularly because of the plentiful grilled chicken.

Only downsides were that the coffee bar at the front wasn't staffed and the gelato looked like it was melting. The deli also tried to be a market which was successful in some areas (you can buy beer) and unsucessful in others (the understocked shelves made me wonder if I can actually buy the dried pasta to cook at home.) A small selection of specialty foods is always nice but either tomorrow if delievery day or there just weren't good design decision made when allocating space to to the market goods.

My meal: salad with grilled chicken, Sour Cream & Onion "Dirty" potato chips, bottle of Diet Coke [$10.10]
Going back: definitely, to sample other items

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