Olga’s Deli is everything you always wished your cafeteria could be
Standing in line at Olga’s, it becomes clear that the deli caters to regulars. You’re expected to know what you want right away. In fact, nearly everyone else in line seemed to be ordering “the usual”. The service is brisk and there’s unspoken protocol to follow. The staff works so swiftly that, if you blink, you may not realize that your sandwich is already waiting for you at the cash. All this sounds a little unsettling, especially if you’re a newbie, but you shouldn’t let it deter you for giving this place a shot. Olga’s serves up plain deli fare that’s fast, fresh and incredibly cheap.
I’ve often wondered about Olga’s, but since the place is only open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, I hadn’t been until just recently. Much of the interior would seem purely utilitarian if it were not for the high ceilings, exposed brick wall and collection of orchids in the window. The place has a certain airy charm with its colourful paintings on the wall, one of which borders on the absurd, as garishly bright yellow birds overwhelm the busy composition.
The food here isn’t particularly adventurous; among the options you’ll find fried egg sandwiches, chili, pizza and bagels with cream cheese. To their credit, however, there are limitless ways to customize your order. There are umpteen types of breads, fresh toppings, mustards and sauces to make your sandwich exactly as you want it.
I decide to order the egg salad with crisp slices of cucumber and a generous helping of roasted red peppers. It’s plain but satisfying, with just the perfect amount of mayo in the filling. The minestrone soup has a homemade taste, with broccoli, tortellini, Italian sausage and a thick tomato base flecked with basil and oregano. My friend orders the deli meats on rye made with salami, roast beef and smoked meat. It’s the toppings that make it – tomato, lettuce, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard and a spicy pickled eggplant that’s flavourful without being too greasy. The macaroni salad is a curious affair, as it tastes like it’s made with softened butter rather than mayonnaise. Still, it’s oddly likable. Other than that, the salad’s pretty basic with just some chopped carrots, celery and black pepper to round out the mix.
If you’re in the mood for an unfussy lunch, you should give Olga’s a try. There’s a good chance you could become a regular here too.
Olga’s Deli & Catering
588 Bank St.
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