Friday, January 30, 2009

Frugal Fridays: The Return to the Sandwich Nazi

It was 1999, right after getting my job at a little internet bookseller start-up, when a coworker took me to Bakeman's Restaurant. I got in line, and I believe I ordered a turkey sandwich. That's when it all went downhill. They barked at me, "Is that ALL you WANT?! Just Turkey?!". I spit out the word "mustard", but couldn't say much else. I shuffled along the line, paid, took my sandwich, and never went back.

Not for nearly 10 years. Last year, I finally made a return trip, this time much more prepared for the cafeteria style eatery with the 'Sandwich Nazi' nickname. I got my order figured out in detail before getting in line, ordered an egg salad, made it past the cashier who tried to up-sell me on drinks and desserts, and enjoyed my sandwich. And now I can enjoy Bakeman's - though I always make sure I'm feeling confident about what I want, so I don't walk out with a slice of pie and a dry turkey sandwich.

Today I returned again, and ordered a sandwich they're perhaps best known for: Fresh Oven Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce.

The restaurant, at 122 Cherry Street (between 1st & 2nd) since 1970, is below ground and very unassuming. The menu is right when you walk in, written on a dry erase board with all the daily specials & perennial favorites listed. You grab a tray and get in line, ordering sandwiches from the first employee, or soup, salad and pie from the second, and drinks from the cashier. You better have cash, cuz they don't take cards.

Their Turkey & Cranberry sandwich is a year round favorite, bringing back memories of Thanksgiving any time of year. It runs $4.92 after tax, including the 25 cents for the cranberry sauce. Other add-ons available are cheese (40 cents) and tomato (25 cents). Lettuce and mayo are offered for free, if you want them. And you get your choice of white or wheat bread, which (like nearly everything at Bakeman's) is homemade.

Nearly all the sandwiches are under $5 after tax, including Roast Beef, Corned Beef, Baked Ham, Pastrami, Meatloaf, Tunafish, Egg Salad, Liverwurst, Chopped Black Olive, Mortadella, Cotto Salami, and Cheese Sandwiches. And a half sandwich will run you just $2.75 before tax. Additional menu items include a variety of soups, chili, salads, cornbread, pie, and specials of the day.

The ambiance is classic cafeteria on one half of the seating area, but down a short flight of steps you can sit in a dimly lit area that appears to have been a bar long ago. Rich woodwork and tile, and some of the original beer signs make it a much more comfortable dining room - free from the fluorescent lighting upstairs.

Another plus of Bakeman's is that they use real plates, glasses, and silverware - so you won't be left with a styrofoam box or plastic spork to deal with.

And the water's free - so don't feel pressured into buying a soda, if you don't want one. Keeping it frugal at Bakeman's takes a bit of fortitude.

(Frugal Fridays is a weekly series dedicated to finding Seattle lunch spots where you can walk in with a $5 bill and walk out with a fulfilling, preferably healthy, lunch. If you have suggestions of places in the Seattle area with a great lunch for under $5 after tax, post a comment - I'd love the help.)

Bakeman's on Urbanspoon


Marco said...

LOL, I had kept my mouth shut, had I known of your trauma ... ;)

But even as a regular, I always expect to hear "No turkey for you!"

what's cookin', good lookin'? said...

I've totally grown to love it now. I swear it was more intense 10 years ago. The young women that work the counter are much more smiley and friendly... and the cashier is like a comedy show, and a really nice guy. Once, when a friend & I went for lunch, and she only had a credit card with her, he just told her to bring in the cash next time. I was really impressed by that.

Jess said...

Hehe. The cash register guy is a hoot. Be careful not to leave your badge out or he'll call you by name just to confuse you. He also hassles all the guys in line around a girl to buy the girl her food. It's pretty silly.