the mississippi nights club photo by david kovaluk

Review: The Gramophone in The Grove

Once primarily known as a live music venue in the popular Grove neighborhood, The Gramophone now bills itself as a tavern/deli/bottle shop. With orders taken at a bar, the restaurant is unlike most delis out there. But when a place serves lunch this good, who cares what it’s called? Sandwiches are filling, affordable and can be ordered in half portions, so try more than one. Here’s what to order:

the frenchy // photo by david kovaluk

The Frenchy
With earthy but clean flavors, The Frenchy was an instant favorite. Flavorful chopped chicken is topped with melt-in-your-mouth bacon, Swiss cheese, red onions and portobello mushrooms on a sesame seed baguette from Fazio’s on The Hill. The subtle, mellow onion combines well with the mildly salty cheese, but mushrooms are the umami star of the show in this tasty sandwich.

The Mississippi Nights Club
Much like its late, lamented namesake, The Mississippi Nights Club has a style and personality all its own. With a traditional base of sliced turkey, roast beef and bacon, this club gets an added punch of heat and texture from spicy red pepper spread, creamy pepper mayo and smashed Billy Goat Kicker chips in the sandwich.

The Alcatraz
Another winner, The Alcatraz is a warm pressed sandwich with tender, delectable chopped roast beef, melty Swiss and Provel cheeses, sweet (but not too sweet) caramelized onions and house Boss Sauce, which is a chipotle Thousand Island dressing. Garlic-buttered sourdough bread contains this glorious mess of a sandwich. It might not hurt to tuck a napkin in your collar. (I did.)

potato salad // photo by david kovaluk

Potato Salad
I often find deli potato salad a letdown (They all taste the same!), but the housemade potato salad at The Gramophone was a welcome and unexpected hit. The mayo-based salad is smoky and has a little kick, thanks to the addition of green onions, jalapenos and cilantro. I couldn’t wait to go back and order it again.

The Downside
The Gramophone’s sandwiches are wrapped in foil and served with a stack of napkins, so things can get a bit messy dining in. It would be better to provide a tray or a paper plate. The one sandwich I’d avoid is The Veggie. Primarily lettuce, tomato and cucumber on sourdough, it tasted like a boring Greek salad on toast.

The Gramophone
4243 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.531.5700,