C4: Cure for the Common Deli
Downtown Santa Ana gets a little touch of Queens New York
Sitting on the overstuffed red vinyl booth, I took a big bite out of my Reuben sandwich. For those few seconds while my teeth sunk into the juicy Reuben sandwich, I felt like I went from hanging out in Dowtown Santa Ana to my Mother-in-law’s favorite deli in Queens. Good deli is hard to find in Orange County, C4 is among a small handful of shops who are doing it right. To the purist, yes it is not the same at Canter’s in Hollywood, but C4 offers an updated version of deli that can appeal to the snobbiest of foodies and the casual diner.
C4: Deli is owned by the same folks who operate of Chapter One: The Modern Local. The secret sauce that helped Chapter One develop a cult following is being carried over to C4. What is the secret sauce? High quality ingredients, craft preparation, house made ingredients and excellent customer service. All of their meats comes from 100% all-natural and raised by “responsible farmers.” Were possible, they house make their sauces, process their own meat. For example, C4 house cures their own pastrami, pickles their own cucumbers, smokes their own meat, and make their own sausage. To me, I find this approach on the vanguard of restaurant trends.The result definitely better tasting food.
The look and feel of C4 is Queens Deli, with inspirations art deco and the classic tiled walls. The front of the restaurant has a collection of overstuffed red vinyl booths. The heart of the action at C4 appears to revolve around the bar which supports craft beer, wine and food service. With Downtown Santa Ana becoming one of Orange County’s hip dining centers, the Deli/Bar can get busy on weekends. Fortunately there is plenty of room at the standing bar as well.
What I ordered
This sandwich is on their “house cured” section of the menu, meaning they actually cure the meats themselves. I thought that this Reuben sandwich was very special both in terms of ingredients and execution. The sandwich is made with marble rye, house-cured pastrami, house-fermented sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and you guessed it house-made Russian dressing. The key element that made this sandwich awesome is the flavor layers created by the ingredients. The sandwich is made with one of the better marble rye breads that I have tasted. The bread is not as intense as some of the marble ryes that I have tried in the past, allowing the cured meat to take center stage. The pastrami was less salty than the standard pastrami I am used to, allowing it to balance with the acidity from the sauerkraut, ripeness of the Swiss cheese and sweet acidity of the Russian dressing.
Other Sandwiches I sampled
Turkey Sandwich – made with Mary’s Free-Range Turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, provolone, malt vinegar aioli. I am never a fan of ordering a turkey sandwich when I go out to a restaurant or deli, but this one is definitely on my list.
Muffuletta is made with Salami, Capicola, Mortadella, Olive Salad, Emmentaler Cheese, Aioli on Ciabatta Roll. This sandwich has its roots in New Orleans and C4 does a great job updating this sandwich while maintaining the classic mix of deli meats with the olive salad spread. This sandwich has an incredible balance of flavors.
Hearts of Palm salad – This cold salad a combination of hearts of palm, white beans, peas, goat cheese and a red wine vinaigrette. This was a delicious combination that provided the right blend of textures and flavors
Other sides I sampled
The Curried Broccoli Salad – This cold salad is made with toasted cashews, bacon, white raisins and curry mayo. It is an upscale version of the famous soup plantation broccoli madness. I could eat this salad all day. The Pickled Pesto Pasta Salad – made with elbow macaroni, citrus pesto, corn, diced pickles and green bell peppers. This was a very refreshing salad between the citrus flavors and the pickles. The pickled and smoked eggs are to die for.
I was particularly impressed with their vast draft beer and wine selections. The draft beer selection is over 15 deep and features a nice selection of local craft breweries including Ballast Point, Oceanside Aleworks, and Valiant. They also carry a very nice selection of bottled beers.
The wine selection was also impressive with wine by the bottle and by the glass. The by the glass program had a variety of reds, white and desert. The bottle program is retail so you can purchase a bottle to be enjoyed at the deli or take it home.
We tried a couple of their specialty root beers, both are deliciously good.
My Final Thoughts
C4 Deli is something special and is yet another restaurant thatis helping to elevate Orange County’s dining scene by serving craft food. The owners that brought us Chapter One have delivered another winning concept to Downtown Santa Ana with C4 Deli. One of the only issues that people seem to have with C4 is that the prices can be higher that your standard chain sandwich shop or Deli. For expect to pay $30 for two sandwiches, two specialty sodas and two sides. To me the extra price was worth the flavor provided by very high quality ingredients. I highly recommend C4Deli/Bar.
200 North Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701