Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Have a Picnic at Kenny & Zuke's Sandwich Works

I had a stressful start to the day. Monday Night Sunday Supper Club went late last night and involved a lot of champagne, so it was a rough morning--getting to work on time and staying relatively coherent and all that. When I took a break to pop into Nuvrei, they were out of my favorite ham & cheese croissant. Then Mom lost her new dog, Roxie, who slipped through a hole in Michelle's back gate while Michelle was lounging around at Mother's Bistro eating macadamia nut pancakes.

When lunch finally rolled around, I was ready for something good to happen. Something like...a great sandwich. And the universe came through for me, because Kenny & Zuke's Sandwich Works opened its doors today at NW 24th and NW Thurman.

A very nice addition to an already Gifted and Talented Eating 'hood--Kenny & Zuke's new neighbors include Square Deal Wines with the fantasmic Steve's Cheese embedded within, Patanegra, Dragonfly Cafe, Food Front Co-op, and St. Honore Bakery--K&Z's was bursting at the seams by the time I arrived at a quarter past noon.

As you walk into the big, airy space, paper menus fill a rack below the large sandwich board to your left, and a cold case holding rows of fun retro sodas from the likes of Boylan and Stewart's sits on your right, herding you towards the counter.

I really wanted to order a New York dog, or the Chicago Italian Beef: tender slices of beef with house giardiniera on a hoagie dipped in garlicky gravy, but with the remnants of last night's steakfest still lying leaden in my belly, I couldn't do it. So I ordered the Chicken Salad Club, a tasty mixture of chunks of moist chicken breast and bits of crunchy celery fused together with plenty of mayo and topped with crisp lettuce and bacon strips and tomato slices on toasted white bread. It was very tasty.

My dining companions both had the Hood River sandwich--layers of turkey (you can also opt for ham), aged cheddar, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, and whole grain mustard on white bread. The apples added a nice tart little kick to the smoky turkey and sharp cheddar. I didn't ask what kind of bread Kenny and Zuke's uses, but it received several compliments from my fellow diners, who are very picky about their sandwich bread. Inexplicably, despite ordering the same thing, only one of my fellow diners received a pickle with their sandwich, which led to an embarrassing scuffle, so next time I'll be sure to check that the pickles are equally distributed.

Kenny & Zuke's dine-in area is largely communal, with long rows of polished picnic tables next to a couple of shorter picnic tables. Since the weather was so beautiful, they rolled up the big door to reveal NW Thurman foot traffic and to let the breeze blow in. We weren't sure we'd get a seat when we ordered so we got everything to go, which meant we really did feel like we were on a picnic, what with our brown paper wrapped sammies and bagged potato chips.

It seems like sandwich shops are sprouting up like wild mushrooms on the East side as Portland rapidly becomes a sandwich lovers nirvana, and as a resident of the West side, I'm glad we've added a solid sandwich shop to our ranks. Thanks to my turgid steak-possessed stomach, I couldn't eat as much today as I would of liked, but I'm taking my work lunch club to Kenny & Zuke's II on Friday at noon for further exploration.

And now, I have to go get Michelle off her new hammock (in my opinion, she is appallingly blasé about the whole losing-Mom's-dog thing) and we are going to comb the streets of SE Portland for a small white Maltese Mix named Roxie. If you happen to have seen her, please email us at tabletalkportland@gmail.com, because Mom is inconsolable. I'd better take her a sandwich.


Kenny & Zuke's Sandwich Works * 11 am - 8 pm daily * 2376 NW Thurman * 503.954.1737 * www.kennyandzukes.com


  1. Thanks for coming in. Apparently, I owe you a pickle, though!