It had been years since I first visited Yellow Dog Eats, longtime favorite sandwicherie and recent silver winner of our Foodster Award for Best Outdoor Dining. So I called up a friend who lives in Gotha and we made a lunch date.
There's also a location in New Smyrna Beach. But do you remember that the first YDE was in the Hidden Gardens off Park Avenue in Winter Park? It opened there in 1996, and I wrote my first review of it almost exactly 22 years ago, on Sept. 5, 1996, appropriately enough in my Chow Hound column in the Sentinel's separate Calendar section. Do you remember when the Sentinel had a separate Calendar section? Do you remember the Sentinel?
It moved to Gotha in 1999 (Yellow Dog Eats, not the newspaper) to a historic structure called the Brockman House, circa 1910. It was originally a residence but was converted to a store called Hamm's Grocery.
It's now owned by the Morgan family, and it's their son, Fish, who started Yellow Dog Eats in Winter Park and moved it to Gotha.
Fish is still there. A Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Morgan chose to use his skills to make approachable, everyday food. And there isn't anything more approachable and everyday than a sandwich.
For nostalgia's sake, I ordered the Classic Yellow Dog Club, which features honey-mesquite roasted turkey, sliced thin but piled amply, smoked gouda, bacon, fluffy lettuce leaf and a slather of mayonnaise infused with orangey Cointreau. It was served on fresh multi-grained bread. Served with a soupçon of slaw and a bag of chips.
My lunch friend had Smokey's Smoked Salmon Salad, a nice fillet, seasoned and smoked, served atop a bed of greens with tiny tomatoes, shredded carrots, dried fruit and nuts, red peppers and onions (also red).
To fully appreciate the culture of Yellow Dog Eats, I took my own yellow dog, Toby (technically apricot parti) and we sat out on the vast, eclectically decorated patio, which is fully covered, something we were thankful for when a thunderous downpour came upon us.
Ordering is done inside at a counter. When your order is ready, your name is called for you to come back in and pick it up. Especially with the minimal service, it would have been nice if the person who took my order and handed it to me later could have at least smiled.
I smiled, just to be back experiencing Yellow Dog Eats and recalling its Winter Park roots. Nice to see good businesses thrive.
Yellow Dog Eats is at 1236 Hempel Ave., Gotha. It's open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-296-0609. See website for New Smyrna Beach details.