I had no shame when we visited Carson’s Country Deli and Bakery on a recent Saturday afternoon. We placed our order at the tall counter and, while our sandwiches were being assembled, I bought two slices of fruit pie ($2.89 each) and one whoopie pie ($1.89).
We didn’t dig into the desserts until after we had enjoyed our sandwiches, and for that we deserve a commendation, because the peach and raspberry pies looked delectable, with their slightly glossy top crusts and bright fruit filling.
Carson’s menu is made up of breakfast sandwiches (served until 11 a.m., from $2.79 to $5.19 for two eggs and steak), homemade mac and cheese, soup and chili in season ($3.29 to $4.29), a few green salads, side salads and 30 subs and sandwiches. The subs can be ordered on a half- or full-length Costanzo’s roll. Most of the half-subs are $4.29 to $4.49, with a few venturing as high as $5.19 and only steak and sausage coming in at $5.99. The whole subs are a few bucks more.
The seating area has about 10 booths, including a couple of sizable ones that could seat a large family. The walls are decorated with a mixture of cute country items and fascinating historic newspaper headlines.
Also fascinating is the table of fresh-baked pies and cookies, all packaged and ready to be taken home. The ones that are sold by the slice are arranged near the cash register, although if you want more than one slice, you should probably spring for a whole pie for $9.99.
Everything John, Pat, John and I got was very good and expertly prepared. The hot things were hot, the cold things cold, everything was fresh and it was all served at the same time.
The homemade mac and cheese (medium for $3.79) was the opposite of the usual processed, creamy, tasteless cheese product. The elbow macaroni was mixed nicely with flavorful, slightly dry cheese with an occasional slight crunch. The heavy paper bowl wasn’t enormous, but was extremely rich and satisfying, so half of that went home.
The three-potato salad, which we enjoyed and then picked apart a bit to identify the spuds, seemed to contain regular potatoes, red-skinned potatoes and sweet potatoes. It was a delicious and unusual salad.
The homemade meatloaf sub (half for $4.49) was stellar in its full flavor and excellent texture. Two thick slabs of meatloaf topped with a slice of melted provolone filled the fresh, soft roll. It was brushed with gravy, which added a kick of flavor.
The beef on weck sandwich ($4.59) was not only delicious, it was beautiful, with the perfect amount of dark caraway seeds and bright salt. The thin-sliced, stacked beef was tender and juicy. We asked for some “au jus” on the side for dipping.
A royal sub ($4.99), with ham, cappicola and Italian sausage, was topped with crisp iceberg and tomato slices, which set off the spiciness of the hearty cappicola. Everything was high quality on its own and better together.
Our final sandwich was the corned beef and slaw ($4.99 for a half). This half-sub roll was difficult to pick up, it was so packed with thin-sliced deli corned beef and fresh coleslaw. The combination was one we hadn’t tried before, and it worked well, with the fresh crunch of the slaw complementing the cured corned beef.
Finally, we got to the pies, which were every bit as good as they looked. This being the off-season, the perfect segments made it clear that the peaches had been processed, and the raspberries were more jamlike than berrylike, but the crusts were flaky and tender. The whoopie pie, two soft cookies enclosing a center of peanut-butter-flavored cream, was the definition of sweet decadence.
Carson’s Country Deli and Bakery
Where: 5668 Old Saunders Settlement Road (corner of Routes 31 and 93), Lockport (433-2248)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sundays. Kitchen closes 30 minutes before the dining room.