** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **
I came in search of sandwiches, and found some fine ones; but the big surprise at Walton Way Deli is soup. There are four kinds every day, each made from scratch, each generously apportioned with its star ingredient, whether beef in every-Wednesday’s vegetable beef soup or turkey in the wild rice soup. They’re the kind of dish you’d hope a friend would make for an easygoing lunch – homey brews with friendly flavor.
Like the soups, sandwiches are not outlandish, but they are well-crafted from quality ingredients. Foremost among those ingredients is Chef Michael Hogue’s beautifully balanced pimento cheese. “We use medium-sharp cheddar cheese, pimento peppers, mayonnaise, a pinch of sugar, and a little garlic pepper,” he told a reporter. “The garlic pepper is what adds that little something extra.” I thought I detected a hint of sweet pickle, too, but Hogue attributed the sweetness to the mayo and pinch of sugar. It’s available in a cold sandwich or as grilled cheese or, as I enjoyed it, as a companion for fried bologna.
Among other noteworthy sandwiches is a full-flavored chicken salad (or warm chicken salad melt), a Monte Cristo dusted with powdered sugar, and a Cuban that includes heretical (but really quite welcome) grilled onions along with ham, Swiss, and dill pickles.
Located on a busy commercial boulevard, Walton Way Deli nonetheless has a warm, neighborhood feel. Nearly every customer appeared to be a friend of the house, of Lisa and Michael Hogue (the owners) and/or waitress Rebekah Hickman. When kitchen duties allow, Michael steps out among the tables to chat with diners about politics, weather, or current events. Lisa and Rebekah make it their business to see that everybody has the forks and spoons they need and there’s ready access to refills of ice tea. When Lisa saw me taking pictures of my sandwiches, she offered a few welcome food-stylist suggestions.