One of the great trends to emerge from lockdown has been the increased demand for simple comfort food that we could enjoy every day.
Before Covid, there had been mumblings that food trends had got way too complicated, with all those foams and frills. Not only restaurants were changing, the retail sector was too. The suburban corner deli had morphed into a wondrous emporium before being swallowed whole by the supermarket. Where had simple yet delicious food gone?
Gone were the days of the humble salad sandwich, now an extinct food group. Made at the deli’s front counter, your chosen ingredients were added from little oblong stainless-steel boxes filled with lettuce, tomato, grated carrot, cheese and (of course) beetroot with ham or chicken added on request. ‘Where did all those tubs go?’ I silently wondered, imagining a stainless-steel boxed foodie heaven.
Lately, however, there has been a rebirth of the ‘sandwich’; a return to form, and its moment in the sun. Not the salad sandwich from the deli bar of the ‘60s and ‘70s, more the airy Japanese sando or the great classic New York ‘deli’ sandwich.
Burgers, toasties and sandwiches have lots of positives. Even reinvented into more luxe versions of themselves, they are quick to make, easily transportable, and lots of fun to eat with a high satiety rating.
There are also no set rules on how to make them or how they should look, they are cost-effective, need simple equipment to make them, so are a win: win for both chefs and customers.
John Draper Junior certainly realised the advantage of the sandwich as a core menu item. Taking inspiration from the New York delicatessens and bodegas he saw on his overseas travels, he decided to open up a sandwich shop in his local village – a suburb where he’s very much part of the community, calling people by name, involved in conversations, knowing regulars’ orders.
Having grown up in a hospitality family, John Junior was well aware of how much investment and commitment are required to start up and run a venue. So, to achieve longevity, he decided to open a daytime café serving breakfast, lunch and coffee, the ubiquitous elixir of ‘Good morning’.
His café, Junior’s Deli, serves one of the few specialty coffees in the area, running Supreme and Double Double single origins, with Therefore as house coffee, roasted in Carrara. Using a variety of beans, they achieve a smooth, rich blend that suits many a palate.
It’s easy to say that John serves ‘sandwiches’, but what you get in your takeaway box is a little more complicated than that. His inspiration is ‘New York deli meets the quintessential Aussie pub’, signalled by NY railway tiles meeting the ‘green and gold’. It also means that each dish is a melting pot of flavours. From Japanese flavours to American melts and cold cuts, John takes Aussie multiculturalism in his stride.
Junior’s Deli doesn’t serve commercial flavours either. John makes his own pickled eggs, cucumber pickles and sauces (some for sale as well), brines and cooks his chicken and meat, the bread for his sandwiches hailing from local Burleigh Baker.
Grilled, fried or fresh, there’s a range of food at Junior’s that’s suitable to eat every day, all day. From breakfast burgers and toasties to sandwiches, salad bowls and burgers, Junior’s is open early, with Thursday night trading for takeaway beef burgers and juicy southern fried chicken.
And joy of joys, John has even heralded in the return of the great salad sandwich, handmade with all the salad veg, sprouts, beetroot and bespoke pickles, and the diners are rushing back. They know what they like and they recognise quality when they see it.
John can almost predict what their order will be. The ladies trot up from the hairdressers, mid-styling, foils and all, for their Ham, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.
World travellers love the pastrami sandwich with Vietnamese sweet-pickled coleslaw on a black charcoal bun.
And Marj pops in for her salad or salad sandwich.
The Deli Sandwich is a classic with provolone, mortadella, sopressa, Polish leg ham, salad and mayo on a baguette.
Tradies love the Patty Melt or the New York style Philly Steak, and some of the ladies order the Caesar Bowl with added chicken.
There’s something for everyone in this little community, even artwork on the walls by local tattoo artist Daniel Pap that you can purchase.
And everyone leaves with a full tummy without much impact on their wallet. It could easily become a daily habit.
Sandwiches are timeless. They’re as quintessential a takeaway food as pizza and pasta and equally as individual. Right now, the sandwich trend is not going anywhere in a hurry…except into your mouth!
Junior’s Deli, 2/51 Railway St, Mudgeeraba QLD, Ph: 07 5633 4404 Open: Mon – Fri 6am-2.30pm. Thurs 5-8pm takeaway only. Sat 7am-2.30pm