The art of the sandwich

With this in mind, I visited some of the places discussed to find out what separates them from the rest: people passionate about what they do. All of the cafes or delis visited produce their own remarkable breads and pastries, procure the best meats and cheeses, or do their best to use locally grown produce when in season and available.

Shartel Cafe, 5116 N. Shartel, is a favorite haunt for both breakfast and lunch. When you first walk in, you cannot help but be drawn toward the pastries, displayed in and around the counter.

Chef and owner Patrick Nault and his wife, Deneen, have run the spot for four years. Before that, Nault worked as a chef at a few local restaurants, including Bellini’s Ristorante & Grill, Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante & Bar and The Renaissance Hotel at the Cox Convention Center.

“I felt it was time to open my own restaurant,” Nault said, “and put what I have learned into a business of my own.”

It’s hard to pick between two sandwiches at Shartel Cafe, with choices such as the Oh My ... Reuben (corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on marbled rye with Thousand Island dressing) and the Italian chicken foccacia (grilled chicken and provolone cheese with roasted-garlic mayo on housemade foccacia).

On this visit, the Reuben was the choice. It is served with fresh-cut french fries, a customer favorite, according to Nault. The sandwiches are built with delicious breads.

“We have a great baker, Tamlin Welch, who comes in around 3 a.m. to get our breads and pastries made,” Nault said.

Do not leave without sampling some of Welch’s delicious pastries — they are sure to put a smile on your face.

At Someplace Else A Deli and Bakery, 2310 N. Western, hungry customers find house-made breads and pastries, as well as deli meats and cheeses, which are available to purchase by the pound.

At the counter, Peggy Carty greeted diners. She and her husband, David, have owned and operated Someplace Else for more than 34 years.

After chatting with Peggy Carty about the menu, the pick of the day was a customer favorite: the avocado and cream cheese on rye, topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato — perfect for a hot summer day.

“No one does what we do, and we have a great customer base,” Carty said. “David comes in every morning at 2 a.m. to prepare all the breads and pastries for the day. He makes rye, wheat and our sub rolls daily.”

With the wide selection of sandwiches and pastries (don’t leave without a cookie), it’s hard not to agree. Someplace Else should be on any greatest-hits list for a superb sandwich in the city.

In Midwest City, Napoleon Deli, 1120 S. Douglas Blvd., is a French deli that serves continental food with an Italian twist. The concept may sound unusual, but in this case it works.

Napoleon is a Midwest City standard. Owned for nearly 20 years by Rene and Gisele Fugairon and their partner, Iva Pitha, the deli was purchased by Miles and Tracy Bartlett in May. The Bartletts have promised to keep all the recipes, and look forward to continuing service to their avid customers in Midwest City and beyond.

“Tracy and I had been customers of the deli for more than two years and heard that they were looking to sell,” Miles Bartlett said. “We wanted this type of restaurant, with business hours that would keep our weekends free, and we wanted to see this place continue on.”

He suggested trying The Emperor, a sub made with mortadella, bacon crumbles, turkey and cheese on the house-made French bread. Similar to baloney, mortadella happens to be one of my favorites, and not often found on menus.

It’s my idea of heaven on a bun, and like all the others, a sandwich to ensure return visits.

At-home sammies

You can’t let Bastille Day (tomorrow) come and go without a trip to La Baguette Bistro, 7408 N. May, for its Croque Madame, a broiled ham and cheese sandwich with a béchamel sauce topped with two eggs sunny side up.

La Baguette’s sandwich is delicious, but this popular eatery is serving up more than already-made sammies. In the mood to make your own? Pop into the on-site bakery for some of its artisan breads, and then make your way to the deli and butcher shop to fill your sandwiches with your favorite deli meats and cheeses.

Forward Foods, 123 E. Main in Norman and 5123 N. Western, is another great place to visit to build a gourmet sandwich. With a wonderful selection of cheeses, plus charcuterie from around the world, you will be on your way to making an artful meal. —Vivian Boroff