From the street you might mistake this building for a laundromat.
Smith’s Restaurant & Deli has fascinated me for quite some time. Having attended high school just a few blocks away and having lived in Clintonville for a year, I always thought I would eat there sometime. But then I never did. I’m not sure if it was the plain looking building front, tucked back a bit in the lot from High Street, or if it was the boring-ness of the neighborhood. I’ve always heard good things about the place, but I guess you could say that I never heard anything interesting enough to get in the door.
Now that I have set foot inside the old Columbus deli, I can say that my curiosities have been completely satisfied. Not in an oh-my-God-that-is-a-good-deli kind of way, but more of a nice-to-have-finally-checked-this-place-off-my-list kind of way. Sure, the interior has a warm, comforting feel and the large, full-wall tribute to Columbus architectural achievements is something to see. Unfortunately, in the end I can say a few good things about the place but nothing interesting enough to make you want to go there. I’m afraid I must perpetuate Smith’s status as the best deli in Columbus for people to think about maybe talking about trying someday.
Now, on to the breakdown.
Juror # 12
The first thing I noticed about Smith’s is that it smells like a pizza place inside. This, of course, is because they have a giant pizza oven and pizzas are prominently featured on their menu. This really isn’t a bad thing; it’s probably a good thing, actually. For me it was just a little confusing. I had my heart set on a deli sandwich, but the aroma of pizza baking sort of confused my system. This could be why I left the place a little underwhelmed. I think my stomach might have gotten really excited for pizza and then there was a bit of letdown when I delivered a sub.
I started the meal with a side of cole slaw and a vintage, bottled root beer. The root beer was great, but then again when is the last time anyone has had a bad bottle of root beer? As for the potato salad — not bad. Actually, it was very reminiscent of the potato salad my mom makes – tangy and firm, not sweet and mushy like most bad potato salads.
The “special” sandwich advertised at the counter piqued my interest and suckered me in. It was a roast beef round sandwich with tomato and cheddar on a sub roll. I’m still a bit torn by this one. Essentially, it was a lot like the roast beef sandwich I ordered from Milo’s Deli – only this one actually tasted good. On the plus side, there was plenty of meat on the sandwich (finally) and the cheddar was sharp and evenly melted. Additionally, the lettuce and tomato were fresh. The roll was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle – perfect for absorbing all of the delicious juices of the meat.
Unfortunately, this is where the sandwich takes a turn. The meat was really dry and lacking in flavor and there weren’t any juices for the bread to absorb. If this sandwich had a scorecard, it might look like this:
Verdict: 5/8 PJs
I’m still waiting for that deli that piles on slice after slice of in-house made pastrami –
Juror # 11
We went to Smith’s for a late lunch, so there wasn’t really any crowd. You order at the counter, which was quick and easy. I got a Turkey Bacon Croissant, a side of macaroni salad, and a Smith’s oranges and cream flavored soda. For how slow it was, it took a longer time then I would have expected for the food to come out. The sandwich was excellent; the croissant was flaky, soft and buttery. The turkey was so moist and flavorful I could have eaten it plain. Plus, the vegetables seemed about as fresh as they can get in October in Ohio.
The fact that they have Smith’s soda makes sense given the name of the restaurant, but makes even more sense given how delicious Smith’s is. The downside of the meal was that it officially killed my dream of finding the perfect macaroni salad. I have ordered it at every restaurant we have been to that had it on the menu, and every time it hits a boring, average note in my taste buds. I will never order macaroni salad while reviewing food again, as it will only be a disservice to you, the reader, because I have accepted it will forever be an average side.
Verdict: 6/8 PJs
Maybe even 7 if it wouldn’t have so completely shattered my macaroni dreams.