Tanglin Shopping Centre has been sold en bloc. Most tenants have moved out. The famous Steeple’s Deli will move out next month. Where to? “Don’t know,” said 83-year-old grandma Susan who runs it with her 27-year-old grandson Johnny. (Grandpa started the deli back in 1981.) Fevered with nostalgia, I paid it a visit last Wednesday.
So-called retro-style American delis are all over the place but there is not one that can compare to Steeple’s Deli. The wooden interiors and warm lighting take you back to those charming generations-old delis in America. Steeple’s is the only deli loyal fans will go to for their to-die-for Reuben sandwich (the buttered rye bread is packed with savory corned beef, piquant sauerkraut, gooey Swiss cheese and a special Russian dressing) and Cuban sandwich (delicious pulled pork, crisp dill pickles, and a generous slathering of mustard between a crispy ciabatta) plus other offerings in addition to their renowned selection of good, old fashioned milkshakes, the best in Singapore, yes, the best, bar none, nonpareil.
Any retard can bake up a waffle or slap a piece of paper-thin machine-sliced, processed supermarket ham between two lousy pieces of cheap white bread and call his eatery a deli but at Steeple’s, we are talking about meats cured in-house and loaves baked fresh, also in-house.
When you visit, you will always be greeted by a polite Susan who makes recommendations and takes your orders or reaffirms your intelligence – “Yes, the Reuben is a great choice, and the Cuban is a must if you want the real thing, or how about trying our burger? It’s a favorite of many” – you can sense that granny has a sincere desire to please and wants you to have a happy meal. Johnny will be busy cooking and you can see him at work like a maestro, as the establishment is more an open kitchen than a restaurant. Meantime, a pretty young lady is quietly whipping up your milkshake. Three dedicated souls working hard to make your meal a memorable one. They also serve breakfast and can cook you a mean omelet, with your choice of toppings.
To add to the old school vibes and ambiance, instead of one of those heavy, full-color, thousand-page paper menus weighing as heavy as a phone book, or even those stupid QR code ones – man, I hate those! – Steeple’s uses green chalkboards that feature handwritten menus of the food and drinks they serve.
Desserts like pecan pie and fudge pieces – stuffed with spongy marshmallows are great ways to round off your lunch. Indeed, no lunch is complete without sweets.
And oh, Steeple’s doesn’t charge GST or service charge.
Where will Steeple’s move to next? Grandma Susan may not really know now, but legions of faithful fans will surely spread the word once they find out.
In the meantime, go visit, for really great food and drinks, and for old time’s sake, of course.