Mid-City Sandwich Company takes flight downtown

by Kristi Maier

It’s bustling downtown during the day in Greensboro. If you’re lucky enough to score some parking on the southern end of Elm Street near Washington, it’s one of the coolest parts of town. There’s so much life while folks take their lunch break at local eateries. One such place is Mid-City Sandwich Company, which is a far cry from the old Fincastle’s that used to reside at its location at 215 S. Elm Street. And it’s quite the departure from what Chef and owner Chris Russell has been doing for years.

Chef Russell is the proprietor of the upscale B. Christopher’s, a steakhouse just down the street at 201 North Elm Street. Russell enjoyed success for several years in Burlington, but took a leap of faith and moved his fine dining establishment to downtown Greensboro at Centre Point. But, not to be satisfied with just one downtown location, Russell jumped on an opportunity. When Fincastle’s closed its doors earlier this year, he decided to go the complete opposite of his nearby restaurant. And Mid-City Sandwich Co. was born. Russell says he’s long wanted to do a more casual spot. “I’ve always wanted to do a concept that was fast and casual for folks to enjoy at lunch.” He says he didn’t want to repeat what his predecessor did. “When Fincastle’s closed, I decided to just let them rest. I didn’t want to try to duplicate that.”

Mid-City offers a variety of sandwiches, like a turkey and ham club, ham and swiss, roast beef and provolone, smoked turkey and havarti and hot sandwiches like the much-loved Reuben and a Pesto Chicken Baguette. You can choose a salad like Greek, Caesar or a chef salad or you may prefer soup (black bean, corn chowder or tomato basil). There is a terrific selection of flat bread pizzas with a host of options like an Asian bbq or the Lombardi with sausage, peppers and onions. There are about 5-7 options from each category, making the decision making easy enough when you’re in a hurry. The atmosphere is casual with counter service, you walk up and order your food, get a ticket—your food is made fresh to order and in less than 10 minutes—.lunch!

I enjoyed a “pick 2” combo of the warm pesto chicken sandwich that features roasted roma tomatoes, provolone and basil pesto mayo. The other half of my combo was a delicious bowl of tomato basil soup with a lovely drizzle of pesto. The perfect light lunch even though it was a warm day. My tiny dining companion ordered a half flat bread pizza. Though it wasn’t on the menu, chef kept it simple with tomato sauce and cheese. Guess what? He liked it. Not saying he doesn’t like pizza, but this one can be picky about even pizza so when it meets his approval, you can bet it’s great. And I’d have to agree. The thin crust had just the right amount of char that makes a thin crust enjoyable. I’d love to go back and try the Mediterranean with black olives, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, feta, garlic and olive oil. There’s also a pizza version of that pesto chicken sandwich which sounds pretty tasty too. Sandwiches all come with a side of potato salad, pasta salad, chips or fruit with a choice of your bread as well. All ranging from $8-10. And getting a salad for under $10 is rare these days

Russell says he’s dividing his time between the two establishments for now, because the hours at Mid-City Sandwich Shop allow him to do so. “It’s just lunch for now, 11 to 3. But we hope to add some additional hours and we’ll be adding bicycle delivery service as well.”

If you miss Fincastle’s, you’ll be pleased to find some familiarity. Namely the iconic mural displaying the old eatery amongst its downtown neighbors, plus there continues to be art along the walls and lovely diner style seating with those awesome turquoise stools. Grab a stool to enjoy an up close and personal view of the chef and his team at work making sandwiches, salads or pizzas to order. There are a few seats outside along the street for all you people-watchers out there.

All in all, we think Chef Russell will be able to make a go of it, right in the middle of downtown. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite, and be in and out in 30-40 minutes or so. Plus the location can’t be beat.!

Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.