Red Onion sandwiches hit the spot


Ben Simone

The author's soon-to-be demolished Reuben

On a cold November evening on Church Street in Burlington, my companion and I stood gazing at the gleaming red neon onion in the window just above a rack of bread loaves.   It looked warm and inviting, we were hungry, so in we went.

The Red Onion Deli was busy despite the lack of people outside. I looked at the menu in the harsh light of the kitchen behind the counter. My eyes first went to the sandwiches: Vermont Smoked and Cured Roast Turkey, Pastrami, Genoa Salami, and then the specials. Faced with the choices of the Red Onion Sandwich, The Spinach Melt, and The Ruben, I went directly for The Ruben.

The menu also offered a variety of soups and salads, as well as a range of sandwich toppings.

I ordered from one of the two employees there at the time although prices for the sandwiches were a bit out of my usual range – $6 to $10 for a sandwich alone, but the freshly baked bread made it seem worthwhile.

After ordering, I found a place near the window to sit down. The wait for my food wasn’t very long, only 10 minutes or so considering the number of people in there. The interior had a homey, authentic coziness, marred only by an industrial-looking rack of chips.

Our food arrived on paper plates. As I looked at the Ruben, the first thing I noticed was the bread; it was rte, about half an inch thick. Next was the meat. It matched the bread in terms of thickness and was layered onto the sandwich; on top of that was a steaming pile of sauerkraut.  Tying it all together was the melted Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing.

The first bite was amazing; I’ve spent quite a bit of time eating Rubens so I know what to expect. The consistency of the sandwich worked; none of the elements overpowered any other, despite it being a large sandwich (about the size of the paper plate itself). However, what was most noteworthy was the bread. The menu says the Red Onion bakes its bread every day, and biting into the sandwich, it was pretty easy to tell. It had the initial crunchiness tthe Ruben needs, yet a thickness that’s desired.

As I looked at my companion’s Roast Beef on Sourdough — a sandwich with a thick pile of vegetables and a nice layer of roast beef — I could tell she was thinking the same thing about her own.

After eating half the sandwich, I was full, but as I continued to eat, and despite my now being satisfied, the flavor grew better, a major accomplishment in my book.

The price of the sandwich was a bit much considering nothing was included, but overall the Red Onion was an experience that certainly did not disappoint.