Sandwich Engineer, the Other Coast Cafe, 5315 Ballard Ave NW, 789-0936.
The lack of decent delis in this town is maddening. It's not impossible to find a decent sub sandwich [see above story], but I'd sure like to see a moratorium on places that serve "wraps," and instead see a little more public support for well-crafted decks of meat and cheese like the ones found at the Other Coast Cafe. Not only do they carry Boar's Head brand meats, they have some smart cookies behind the counter. Natalie makes a mean ham and cheese, and she's a double major in English and psychology whose latest passion is astrophysics (really).
Do you like your job?
"I like it a lot. Dave Harris [the owner] is a really laid-back guy; he keeps the atmosphere fun and casual. And I've had some asshole bosses before--he's really cool. And the food is good; I feel good about what I serve."
What do you like to eat here?
"The Ragin' Cajun is really good. It's homemade--Dave made up the sauce. It's what we're famous for; it's what keeps people addicted. That's what I like; I just doctor it up with less meat and more pickles."
Do you have a steady local lunch crowd?
"Yeah, lots of regulars. It's crazy from noon to two--we have lines out the door. We've just expanded our evening hours, so now we're slowly doing more business at night."
What are the best and the worst things about the restaurant industry?
"You smell like shit all the time. Everyone's always telling me I smell like a deli. And you get so overheated--there's two ovens back there, and you're in between them all the time. That's the worst part. But the best part is the people I work with--everyone here rocks."
What's the strangest customer you've had in recent memory?
[Yelling to her co-worker] "Hey Megan, who was that guy that we got the baseball bat for?"
[Megan and Natalie explaining jointly] "Yeah, this guy came in and ordered a meatball sandwich, and when we handed him his food, he said, 'Is that how you would eat it?' and we said, 'Yeah,' and so he said, 'You eat it then!' and threw it at us!"
"Yeah--one of our regulars brought in the baseball bat and suggested we clock [the meatball customer] next time he comes in."