Upon the recommendation of some friends, I visited Simply Delicious Café near the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol and became an instant fan. So, I was pleased to learn that a second location for Simply Delicious opened recently in Johnson City near the campus of East Tennessee State University.
This new location is managed by Shelby Banner, the daughter of Larry and Lori Slipek, who opened the original Simply Delicious in Bristol 20 years ago. The eatery’s Facebook page also lists Cassidy Rutledge as the other general manager.
Besides an ideal location tucked between ETSU and the Johnson City Medical Center, the new establishment has some other things going for it. First and foremost is its menu of signature gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups and appetizers. The restaurant utilizes Boar’s Head Premium Deli Meats for many of its sandwiches.
The restaurant’s dining area features cinderblock walls painted in hues of barn red and raw umber with white trim. Seating is available at black tables equipped with black chairs with dark wood seats. Several bistro-style tables with high-legged chairs are lined along the front windows of the cafe. The self-service beverage bar is fashioned with a flagstone façade. There’s not much in the way of decor, other than advertisements for some of the products used to make many of the menu items.
We visited on a cold weekday evening and found the chill in the dining area serious enough to discourage us from removing our jackets. With winter’s arrival imminent, the restaurant might want to slightly turn up the thermostat to afford a more comfortable dining environment.
The menu is basically divided into sections for Handcrafted Sandwich Sensations, Build-Your-Own Sandwiches, Fresh Made Salads, Appetizers and Extras, as well as Wings, which can be ordered with various sauces, including Kentucky Bourbon, Asian Ginger, Sweet Habanero, Parmesan Garlic, Caribbean Jerk and Buffalo.
From visits to the Bristol location, I’ve acquired some favorites among the sandwiches, including the Crabby Angela, a sandwich featuring corned beef and Swiss cheese, topped with crab salad and served on a toasted rye roll with special horseradish sauce. I also like the Crabby Carolyn, which features turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and tarragon mayonnaise, topped with crab salad, on a toasted wheat roll.
For this visit, however, I decided to try some items I have not yet sampled at the Bristol location. Customers order at the front counter, where they look through a paper menu or refer to the menu board on display on the wall behind the counter.
I looked over the sandwich listings, taking special interest in such items as the Pastrami Reuben, Larry’s 40 Year Original Italian Sub and The Sailor, which features hot pastrami, split knockwurst, melted Swiss cheese and mustard on toasted rye bread. I also noticed that the daily special was the restaurant’s Tuna Melt.
I decided to try the Cajun Roast Beef, which is served with pepperjack cheese, onions, pepper rings and deli mustard on an onion roll. My friend chose the Cuban, which is made with roasted pork tenderloin, ham, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and pickles on a lightly toasted hoagie roll.
Sandwiches are served with chips or a deli salad, the choices of which include Mustard Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, Dixie Style Slaw, German Potato Salad, Baked Potato Salad or, for a modest additional cost, Tabouli Salad.
I paired my sandwich with a side of the Tabouli Salad while my dining companion chose the Baked Potato Salad, which is made with potatoes, bacon, sour cream, chives — basically all the ingredients of a well-stuffed baked potato.
We each decided to also order soup. Selections during our visit included Lobster Bisque, Vegetable Beef, Chicken Tortilla and Pumpkin with Apple and Bacon. I chose the Chicken Tortilla while my friend ordered the Pumpkin with Apple and Bacon.
Many of the salads, which can make a meal in themselves, are also available in half sizes. Knowing that, we each ordered a half-sized salad. I chose the Antipasto Salad, while my friend tried a half-sized Chef Salad. Other salad choices include House Salad, Greek Salad and the DeDe Salad, which is made with fresh lettuce topped with chicken salad, Swiss cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers.
The kitchen work station is on view from the dining area, so customers can watch the preparation of their meals as they wait. We didn’t have to wait long before the sandwiches, soups and half-salads arrived.
The soups — as we have always found them at the Bristol store — were sensational. My friend especially liked the creative blend of pumpkin, apples and bacon in his warm soup. The flavors melded perfectly to make his soup, of which he shared a sample, delicious and perfect for an autumn meal. I also liked the slightly zesty Chicken Tortilla, which was garnished with four tortilla chips and some melted cheese. Both would make hearty soups for a chilly day.
The salads were also hearty and, for half-sized portions, quite ample. My Antipasto Salad featured a mix of lettuce and other greens with Genoa, salami, ham, Provolone cheese, onion, tomatoes and peperoncini. My friend also liked his half-sized Chef Salad with lettuce, ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes.
The true stars of the meal, however, were the delicious sandwiches. The onion roll provided a perfect vehicle for holding the Cajun roast beef and other zesty ingredients on my sandwich. My friend also approved of the Cuban Sandwich. The sandwiches were cut into two halves before being placed in a paper-lined plastic basket. The soups and salads, however, are served in white plastic bowls. The sandwiches held together well, which is always a plus in my opinion.
Of course, we ended the meal with a visit to the front counter to view the slices of pies and cakes, as well as cookies and other sweets, on display for concluding a visit to Simply Delicious. Some of the dessert choices available included Amaretto Biscotti Cake, Creme Brulee Cheesecake, Berry Moscato Cake, Turtle Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Red Velvet Cake and much more.
I chose a piece of the Amaretto Biscotti Cake, which features alternating layers of light cake and amaretto mousse on a base of biscotti. The cake is topped with almond slivers. My friend chose the Creme Brulee Cheesecake. He agreed to exchange a bite of this smooth, creamy dessert for one of mine, so I can confirm that both desserts provided us with a delightful conclusion to our visit.
A second Simply Delicious Cafe provides double the opportunity to enjoy some tasty, casual meals. The eatery should make a welcome addition to Johnson City’s dining scene.
AT A GLANCE: Simply Delicious Cafe and More, 1736 W. State of Franklin, Suite 1, Johnson City. 328-3087. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Menu items $8.50 and under. Carryout available. Catering available. Selection of bottled beers available.