by Max Brantley
Dean Cline is back at work making potato salad and chicken salad according to the recipes of the legendary Cordell's deli. I've confirmed that he's gone to work on the deli staff at Terry's Finer Foods at Country Club Station in the Heights. He's at work and made batches of both salads today, but word has spread quickly, so I can't guarantee what you'll find if you head up there this afternoon.
When we last visited, a deal to supply the salads through a former owner of Browning's had fallen apart.
If you don't know from Cordell's, long a fixture in Riverdale, it's your loss. Time was a tray of thinly sliced roast top sirloin and a tub of potato salad was the tried-and-true Old Little Rock sympathy platter for both funereal and celebratory occasions. I think I even eventually stumbled on the secret ingredient that explains the smooth and unwatery texture of the potato salad dressing. But replicating the taste of potato salad time after time — not to mention the firm, but not crunchy texture of the potatoes — is a real art. Cordell's had it down.
Who says there's never any good news?
UPDATE: I dropped by Terry's, bought some pints of each and talked briefly with Dean. He's going to be managing Terry's deli. Platters will resume and other catering. In a week or so, he hopes to start making Cordell's style sandwiches. He's already cooking the whole top sirloin roasts. Salt, pepper, garlic and plenty of pink inside make a pile of this beef, sliced thin, the star of any sandwich but also the perfect cold plate accompaniment to potato salad. Some asparagus and heirloom tomatoes complete the picture.