New downtown Evanston cafe boasts unique steamed sandwiches

Susan Du

Evanston’s newest cafe doesn’t serve the average sandwich.

The Black Belt, explained Delbe’s Corner owner Natasha Young-Delbrouque, is a tour-de-force of bacon, gouda, dill Havarti cheese, Portobello mushrooms, tomato and chunks of avocado steamed together with peppercorn and served on a bialy, a bagel-like bread that is “crunchy on the outside and warm-out-of-the-oven on the inside.”

“My relationship with anything is investigate, follow your passion and if you love something, you can do it,” Young-Delbrouque said. “I guess I just love food.”

Young-Delbrouque, an Evanston Township High School graduate, opened her first restaurant, Tuckaway Cafe, in beachfront Fort Myers, Fla., in 2009. Although business was thriving, Young-Delbrouque said she had to pack up and move back to Evanston when the Floridian heat became too intense. At 1100 Davis St., she rechristened her sandwich shop earlier this month as Delbe’s Corner.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who attended the shop’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, sipped a latte while chatting with fellow residents about the cafe.

“We’re glad you moved from Florida, and you’re smart for doing so during our mildest winter yet,” Tisdahl said as she snipped the ribbon. “The sandwiches are delicious.”

Delbe’s Corner’s trademark is the steamed sandwich. With only four other steamed sandwich shops in the nation, Young-Delbrouque said the shop offers Evanston fresh tastes as well as new business.

“When you steam your vegetables, it’s 100 percent nutritious,” Young-Delbrouque said. “It absorbs easily into the intestines, and a lot of the time that’s why they tell you to steam your vegetables. It also develops the flavors.”

Mayre Press, Northwestern graduate and long-time Evanston resident, said she heard about Delbe’s Corner through the Downtown Evanston e-newsletter and was instantly attracted to the shop’s unique vision.

“It’s very good,” Press said of the steamed sandwich she tasted Wednesday. “It didn’t taste bizarre or anything – –it’s kind of like a sandwich on a bagel but it was warm, and very tasty. And it’s nice to see people coming out and supporting a new business. That’s one of the great things about the Evanston community.”

As customers drifted in and out of the shop, Young-Delbrouque warmly greeted friends and strangers alike, offering her Argentine croissant and rum cake with shots of espresso as free samples.

Delbe’s Corner’s menu reflects the significant role friends and family play in terms of her culinary creativity, Young-Delbrouque said.

The Quentin, a roast beef and pastrami number, was inspired by her 14-year-old son while the Mimille, a lean pastrami, mustard and provolone option, is named after her 10-year-old daughter. The Greenpeace was titled for her activist sister, the Carter Klein for her staunch vegetarian father and the Jiji Parie for her Parisian mother, Jiji.

“Everything on the menu is a little inspirational,” Young-Delbrouque said with a laugh.

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