Acadia Foods’ new menu exceeds expectations
By: Jennifer Zeleski
There is one frontier that has struggled to integrate vegetarian and vegan options as equals—the American deli. Freshly-sliced meat topped with creamy cheese just didn’t have a feasible substitute, and failed attempts at replacements ended up as sad salads or terrible tofu.
The time has come for a triumph, and Acadia Foods in Winston-Salem has accomplished it. They’ve made a traditional deli that is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, with options that many wouldn’t think twice about simply excluding meat, dairy or egg, while also creating crave-worthy meals for carnivores.
Several other places in the Winston-Salem area have also instilled hope in those who often struggle to find affordable and delicious options within their appetite’s parameters, but this is the first and closest I’ve found to a deli you can stop by for a quick lunch or one you’ll take a detour for after a long day at work.
Acadia Foods’ new menu was created after the Washington Perk Southside location, 228 W. Acadia Ave. in Winston-Salem, transitioned into new ownership in 2018. The store has expanded into a full coffee bar, a small organic-based grocery store and a traditional deli, all of which push the boundaries of great taste and healthier choices for the Winston-Salem community.
The space has a modern yet welcoming feel, with a brightly-painted exterior and sleek logo, much like many in the downtown Winston-Salem area. There’s a large porch to kick back under the umbrellas and plenty of wooden tables to gather around inside for a quiet and mellow getaway.
But let’s get back to the food.
The menu is broken down into hot and cold sandwiches, a portion for kids of all ages, sides, salads, snacks, a build-your-own sandwich section and breakfast, whose options often appear on the all-day Sunday brunch menu as well.
Note how there wasn’t a separate section of the menu devoted to veggie-friendly options, they were just mixed right in—even though their details made them stand out.
A cauliflower melt made with bacon or tempeh, roasted cauliflower, caramelized onion, cheddar, mayonnaise and grilled sourdough. A roasted beet Reuben (next to a traditional Reuben, corned beef and all), with smoked Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese on grilled marble rye bread. The Jack Straw (arguably the most impressive) made with spinach, sprouts, cucumber, pickled onion, carrot, lettuce, tomato, herbed cream cheese, Monterey Jack and marble rye.
These options seemed so doable yet so simply-miraculous that I couldn’t wait to try one for myself. I settled on the B(T)AT hot sandwich, choosing bacon instead of tempeh, fresh arugula, roasted tomato, mayo and sourdough. The sandwich was labeled vegan (aside from the bacon on my part), and I paired it with a side of vegan pasta salad.
This sandwich was nothing short of delicious. The sourdough bread had been grilled long enough to get both slices entirely crispy, exactly how you want a golden grilled cheese or a well-buttered panini. Its tartness with the mayonnaise was addicting, and the perfect balance to the saltiness of the bacon and the freshness of the arugula. The roasted tomato added a subtle sweetness that was reminiscent of sun-dried. Rather than your typical BLT, this sandwich had a depth of flavor that I’ll be attempting to recreate on my own.
It’s hard to mess up pasta salad—make a box of al dente pasta, throw in some assorted vegetables and toss it in a light vinaigrette (or packaged Italian dressing if you’re headed to a summer picnic), and let it marinate overnight. Easy enough. The pasta salad at Acadia was just as good, if not better than that first scoop of summer pasta salad you’ll get this year.
Mixed in a light vinaigrette was Ditalini pasta thrown in with chopped red onion, tomatoes, capers and fresh parsley. It was refreshing and not vinegar-heavy, and I would definitely order it as an upgrade to a bag of chips or a side of fresh fruit.
To get a feel for the cold sandwiches and hot soup, my boyfriend (and self-proclaimed deli addict) chose the cold Pastrami sandwich, made with smoked Thousand Island dressing, coleslaw, Swiss cheese on marble rye, with a side of the daily soup special, Mexican corn chowder.
It isn’t as common for him to have a lot to say within the first few bites of a sandwich, so this one was an exception. The smoked Thousand Island dressing was smothered over the marbled rye, which was as soft as it could be without falling apart with the weight of the toppings. He found the sauerkraut to be crisp and not overwhelming, the Pastrami to be tender throughout, and not a single bite to leave behind.
Although the Mexican corn chowder had the flavors one might expect: cumin and onion mixed into the soup’s creaminess, he found it to be too salty and was reaching for the pasta salad as a refreshing side instead. It wasn’t enough to turn him away from other soup options in the future, but may make him think twice before turning down potato salad or vegan collard greens next time.
The truth is, it was easy to fall in love with such a simple place. Both meals were served on mismatching ceramic dishware, not in a kitschy way, but in a much-less-wasteful way. Yes, to-go is still an option with the appropriate packaging, but if you have a few minutes to spare, grab a bottle of soda from the fridge, order your sandwich and relax. You might just find a new vegetarian favorite or your new go-to deli.
Jennifer Zeleski is a senior Communication major at High Point University, who is always eager to cook, eat and listen. Her many food adventures can be followed on Instagram @jayz_eats.