If you and the kids are headed to the Waterloo State Recreation Area in southeast Michigan this summer, you might want to stop in downtown Chelsea on the way to pick up sandwiches for the road. Mike’s Deli, just off Main Street, has been a local favorite for over 20 years. It’s no wonder. Their sandwich menu is nearing the 100 mark!
When Kevin O’Connell and his wife, Sherry, took over six years ago, the menu included 77 sandwiches, with names like the Stingray (Kevin thinks that’s a previous owner’s homage to the Mustang). The deli aims to keep things interesting – Kevin now lists 90 sandwiches.
His personal pick? The Reubensque. Between two slices of rye, the sandwich includes turkey, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing. He says other sandwich creations have come from a variety of sources, including his wife’s inspiration, and employee favorites. That’s how Scotty’s Farewell came to be. A departing employee – you guessed it – Scotty came up with his namesake sandwich, which stacks smoky turkey, pepper jack cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce, ranch dressing and honey mustard all on a grilled sub.
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You get the idea. This is the place you’ll have to say what kind of salami on your sandwich – and you’ll get to pick from five varieties of mustard.
Sherry, who Kevin describes as "the head cook and creative force" in the kitchen, offered these answers to Crumbs’ questions. She also passed along her recipe for the fiesta salad.
What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?
Pasta, red wine and butter.
Your favorite meal to make or serve?
Lasagna. I never make the same kind twice. Sometimes I use ground beef, other times turkey or just an all-vegetable lasagna.
We all have a favorite indulgence; for a foodie like you, it must be something spectacular?
Gorgonzola cheese. (Her husband was surprised by that!) I’ve been developing salads that use gorgonzola and bing cherries, or strawberries and gorgonzola.
What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?
I made tofu lasagna years ago. It didn’t turn out at all.
There are so many great Michigan-made food products; what is your pick?
What do you suggest for first-timers to Mike’s Deli? What menu item should they make sure to try?
Our best seller is the Stingray club or a reuben. Both are grilled on bread from Zingerman’s (in nearby Ann Arbor).