The last time I had the sandwich known as the Abigail, it was at George’s Gourmet Cookie’s in a small storefront space at the corner of Lee Road and Orlando Avenue in what was then the Kmart-anchored shopping plaza. The sandwich, a take on a reuben, was revelatory. And even though it was in 2016 that I had it, that sandwich came to mind often – usually anytime I ordered a reuben elsewhere only to be disappointed in comparison.
Sometime during the haze of the pandemic, George’s moved to Park Avenue, taking over the former Brandywine Deli space. Gourmet Cookies was dropped from the name, but not from the menu, and it is now known as George’s Cafe.
The George in question is George John Paul II, and I have no idea who Abigail is or was or what she did to inspire such a sandwich but I’m glad she did.
And actually, Abigail isn’t all that different from a classic reuben; in fact I can’t see any distinction. It has corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on rye, just as you’d expect. But the beef is roasted in house, thinly sliced and piled high. And the the grilled bread has a buttery taste that adds to the sum of the parts. It’s still a wonderful sandwich.
On my recent visit to George’s, I also ordered the sandwich called the Pearl, which, contrary to logical thinking, is not a take on an oyster po’boy. It is, however, a take on a classic Italian sub or even another sandwich associated with New Orleans, a muffuletta. It had smoked ham, capicola, salami and provolone cheese and a dressing of balsamic vinegar. What made it muffulettish was the green olive tapenade. It’s usually made with a French baguette but I requested a hoagie roll instead and liked the softness of the bread.
Sandwiches are mostly priced in the mid-teens, which is fair given the portions. But they also include two side dish choices, also generously doled out. I liked the macaroni salad (lots of fresh celery and onions) and the coleslaw. Nothing special about the red beets except that you get a lot of them. And the baked beans were quite tasty.
And as I said, the extravagant cookies that were an early signature are still available. I had a fist-sized Original Chocolate Chip, mainly because that’s about all that was left when I was able to place my order at the counter.
If you’re looking for an example of restaurant understaffing, an issue that is currently plaguing nearly all food service businesses, you’ll find it at George’s Cafe but you won’t find anyone annoyed by it. To place my order, I stood in a long line that was reminiscent of the early days of the food truck craze, except there were no young hipsters here. The young woman who was taking the orders also had to deliver the food when it came up, often making a side trip to grab a pitcher of ice or fill a glass with water, then back to the cash register to take another order, maintaining her composure and managing to offer each customer a kind greeting.
More surprising were the customers, who all waited patiently and without complaint.
Good food is worth waiting for.