“Yeah, yeah…shorty got down low and said, ‘Come and get me.’”
Not exactly the first phrase you’d expect when entering a restaurant. Once again, we were stood up by Italian food (Roman Village in Dearborn is closed before 4:00) that Saturday afternoon; the next logical step? History repeats itself: get to a deli.
Rosa was the first one to suggest Mudgie’s. I’d heard a bit of hype around the place; tweets here and there, mostly, but tried to disregard them immediately. You’ve just got to give a sandwich a fair, clean shot; it’s a justice we can all strive for. We also had my friend Kim from Work with us on this trip. Both of us green to this deli, we shrugged our shoulders and said, “Hype tweets be damned—Mudgie’s, we’re coming,” and were greeted by Usher and his merry men, Little Jon and Ludacris.
Mudgie’s is a cute Corktown location on the corner of Porter and Brooklyn: a single room that could seat about 50 people, tops, coated in terra cotta paint covering multiple spackling jobs. Not unlike many Detroit hangs, it’s an older, well-loved, beautiful building. The ceiling panels were lovely, true to the original architecture, I’m sure; details in finesse and history. On the exterior were sprawls of leaf-less vines (it’s January, y’all). It must be gorgeous in the summertime.
While they do serve hard alcohol and host a strong beer and wine menu, we got waters and fancy root beer. I ordered the Madill on a quick recommendation from the server; a roasted turkey sandwich on hoagie bread, decorated with strips of Neuske’s nitrate-free cherrywood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine, melted pepper jack cheese and house-made garlic mayo. Oh, and a pickle. Apparently, it’s won a bunch of awards. Sold.
Kim ordered the Mudgie (can’t go wrong if it’s named after the place), a grass-fed, Michigan raised beef brisket + turkey sandwich with house-made vegetable cream cheese, Brownwood Farm mustard on an onion roll. Rosa got her favorite, the Ivey: an open-faced sandwich on multi-grain bread with Havarti cheese, avocado, sunflower sprouts, lettuce, tomato red onion and house-made spinach spread. We also got two waffle-pressed brownies, topped with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
And here it is—a bummer—my first not-so-glowing review. It wasn’t the service! Our gal was lovely and knowledgeable and kind.
It wasn’t the atmosphere. We kicked back in chairs reminiscent of upper-EL school stock, laughed and recalled memories from college, convicted each other of silly ills that we both could not accurately remember. Central heating fought and pumped and spat out warmth that ultimately condensed and coated the interior of the windows; a smooth fog perfect for tracing simple shapes in beads of water.
And it most certainly wasn’t the quality of the ingredients. With every bite of the Madill, “fresh” came to mind; I was reassured that they were using the best not by the menu, but by the creation.
It was the sandwich’s overall apathy. The bread was not strong, just your basic hoagie sampler. The combination of ingredients was just…fine. It was all just fine, which is not a reason to boycott a place. I’ll certainly go back at some point (if Russell Street is out of the question). The consensus at our table, however, was, “This is fine.” But this kid ain’t looking for fine. I’m looking for through-the-moon. I’m looking for the sandwich equivalent of Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood or Meg Ryan’s apartment in You’ve Got Mail.
In fairness, there are eight million options on the menu, so I’m sure I’ll go back and eat something that throws my initial opinion in the dumpster out back. Sandwich was boring, but the pop was good. Kim had a good time. It was above-freezing and I have friends. It didn’t ruin my day.
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 A.M.-9 P.M., Sun 11 A.M.-4 P.M.
Price Range: $$ (out of $$$$)
Parking: street/private lot
Credit/debit card accepted