For a few years, White Plains has been touted as a burgeoning suburban metropolis. Supporters say that it is a destination for culture, a melting pot of arts, entertainment, and food. I think they are all full of crap. A movie theater, Five Guys, and Barnes & Nobles does not mean that a city is the new Manhattan. When walking down the main drag of Mamaroneck Avenue, I don’t hear any different accents, just the same faces that have been strolling down the avenue since I was a child. When I finally found a restaurant that I did like in the area (Latin American Cafe), I returned a month later to find a hole in the ground where a building once stood. Now it’s a parking lot. Yet another place for people to park on their way to Cold Stone Creamery.
That’s enough of my class warfare speech.
What irks me is that most of the places around the main drag are either bad, overpriced, or just happen to serve some semblance of food to go with the beer that is dished out to the sounds of pumping techno or top-40 hits.
Maybe I wasn’t done ranting.
Let’s just say I think that most of the places are lousy. However, I had errands to run in the area. I was in a rush and didn’t feel like slogging through lousy weather to someplace I knew would be good. I was going to roll the dice and try someplace new.
I ended up at Martine Gormet Deli. It didn’t look too pretentious and the prices did not appear overblown. I was really in the mood for some chicken salad, but when chicken salad is bad, boy is it bad.
Martine’s offering was pretty good. I ordered it with bacon and tomato. To my surprise, the counter person asked “Would you like the bacon well-done?” Why, yes. Yes, I would. How nice of you to ask. That definitely won points in my book. The bacon was plentiful and well-done, as requested. The tomato was fresh. The roll was OK. The chicken salad itself was nice, not exceptional, but would warrant a return visit. The price was alright as well ($6 and change).
This was not a bad experience. I would be happy to give these guys my business again. However, I wonder how long they will last. Despite the fact that it was lunchtime, there was barely any business. Only two other people came through while I was ordering and eating. That’s a real shame as I believe that Martine has good prices and nice food.
If I could play restaurateur for a few minutes, I might suggest some improvements for Martine to garner them more business.
1. The Salad Display: On Martine’s takeaway menu are a slew of salad. There is an entire fridge in the front of the store dedicated to salads, but those salads just look sad. They are in plastic containers that while large, do not scream “fresh and tasty”. They probably taste good, but are simply not pleasing to the eye. The entire top row of the salad display is dedicated to dressings. While it is great that there are 15 or so flavors to choose from, couldn’t that space be better utilized with something else? Most people have a preference when it comes to dressing. Keep them behind the counter and give them to people when they pay. If you think a particular dressing works best with a certain salad, just package it together with the salad or suggest it to the customer when they pay. Put something else on that shelf.
2. Chips: The name is Martine Gourmet Deli. Wise chips do not scream “gourmet”. I don’t think pretzels were available. Up your snack game. Pop Corners. Pop Chips. Gluten-Free snacks. Do something else to get people in the deli. There are plenty of places people can go for a roast beef sandwich. Maybe if you have some sweet potato chips available, they will come to your establishment.
3. Drinks: Starbucks cold drinks and soda. Where is the juice selection? How about some Stewart’s Root Beer. Maybe D&G Jamaican sodas. Give me something different. Earn your “Gourmet” name.
4. Meat Display: There is one meat display with cold cuts inside. That’s standard, I understand. However, there is another display with only chicken salad and tuna salad inside. They are both on gigantic trays. How about small trays and new offerings? Curried chicken salad with apple. Fat-free tuna salad. Waldorf salad. Rice pudding. Bread pudding. Macaroni salad. The food is good, but there should be something to make me curious, something to entice my eye, something that will make me say “I wanna’ try that the next time I’m in here.”
Martine is nice. They are located a few stores off Mamaroneck Avenue, and nearby the courthouse. Plenty of foot traffic passes by and a bus stop is directly across the street. They should be doing better and I hope business improves. I’d be happy to dine there again.
Martine Gourmet Deli
186 Martine Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601