Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Downtown Market & Deli

Downtown Market & Deli is located on Liberty St. SE in downtown Salem, Oregon. They mainly specialize with a few Mediterranean and Middle Eastern products in the market. The delicatessen is in the back of the market and offers several Greek dishes.

I have to basically walk right up to the wall just to see what they offer...
But woohoo for pictures!
Oh, OK. This is much clearer writing to me.
After a bit of thought, I went with the lamb shawarma sandwich for $7.95.

Downtown Market & Deli's take on a lamb gyro
I waited about 10 minutes for my food; I like that the sandwich was made to order.

Overall, it was a good sandwich -- served gyro-style -- with fresh vegetables. I liked that they served a warm pita, but I felt the pita should have been grilled or toasted a little longer so it would not immediately go soggy or limp with the sauce and meats. I like real toasty pitas, bread, and tortillas...just my preference, I guess.

I enjoyed the sauce. It wasn't traditional tzatziki, but a sauce made of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and herbs. Tahini is basically a ground sesame paste (usually made with toasted sesame seeds). It was actually the first time I've had tahini in anything -- at least to my knowledge. The flavors came together for me for a great first experience. I give Downtown Market & Deli a lot of credit for this one.

Unfortunately, the lamb -- the main event here -- was just OK. It had some flavor, but I had a few tough pieces in my serving which made the overall meal a bit unappealing. Again, my friend makes lamb that is just juicier, more tender, and more flavorful.

For people with a sweet tooth, Downtown's deli also carries desserts like Baklava, Kataifi, Namora, and Tiramisu. I passed on the dessert this time around.

The service I got here was not too great. I waited for a few minutes before being served, even though I was one of two people there. Don't assume I've placed my order. If you're an employee, ask the customer if he/she placed their order or needs more time with making a selection.

The market felt cramped (it is a small hole-in-the-wall market). The deli in the back was not consumer-friendly. It was not well-lit and I had a hard time reading the menu. I had to literally walk to the board and stand about a foot away just to see all the food choices. Maybe it's my eyes, but yeah,

Would I go back to Downtown Market for a Greek meal? I'd consider it because my food was not bad (it just wasn't mind-blowing). It's really two other factors that concern me more: (1) subpar service and (2) the deli's lighting (or lack thereof) and place in the market (the back right corner).

I will admit, I did not go upstairs to their dining area (I did not dine in due to my busy schedule). So perhaps I may need to review this place again. But for now, it gets a rating slightly above average. 5.5/10

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