Don’t be surprised if you see stars when you go to Rick’s Deli. The chef, Emmanuel Hodencq, comes to Greenville, SC, from Clermont-Ferrand, in the Auvergne region of France, where his restaurant earned a coveted Michelin star for 12 years. Hodencq and his spritely wife Viviane, who runs the front of the house, moved to Greenville to open Rick’s Deli in late February 2013.
Menu items and more tempt diners at Rick's Deli — Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan
By day, Rick’s is every bit the deli, with lunch fare encompassing tasty sandwiches, sides and salads. Stuffed with roasted pork, Swiss cheese and pickles, the Cuban comes on grilled Cuban bread, while the Carolina Black & Blue pairs hot roast beef, sautéed onions and melted blue cheese. The menu also lists a classic hot pastrami as well as a California Reuben (a lighter take on the standard, with turkey standing in for corned beef on grilled marble rye).
Before you order, be sure to take a peek at the case where the day’s specials reside. They almost always have a towering, custardy quiche du jour, as well as a small roasted chicken you can take home to have later. If you happen to see croque monsieur on the list of specials, by all means go for it. This deliciously rich hot sandwich of ham, Gruyere cheese and Mornay sauce tastes just like those you’d order in a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris. And it’s well worth the caloric splurge.
By night, a separate menu of appetizers and entrees features seasonal additions such as a pâté and cheese plate, beef tartare, spicy shrimp over linguine and a silky risotto with earthy morels, enriched with cream and Parmigiano Reggiano and topped with a slice of crispy bacon.
Wines by the glass average a very reasonable $6, and bottle prices are not marked up from the retail prices as they appear on the deli’s shelves. This means that you can buy a bottle of wine for a table of four for less than you’d pay individually by the glass.
Whatever you do, don’t pass up dessert. Go ogle the pastry case before settling on the likes of a milk chocolate praline tart, a pistachio financier or the chef’s specialty: French macarons.
Though you’ll often hear these cookies called “macaroons” in English, they are not the coconut confections that Americans know as macaroons. These light, gluten-free sandwich cookies are made of meringue. Inside each pastel-hued macaron is a layer of ganache or buttercream in subtle flavors that may include Amarena cherry, chocolate, lemon, mocha, basil and more - depending on the chef’s whim and the market each day. Odds are that you won’t be able to leave without taking a little box of these mouthwatering jewels with you.