We all need a clubhouse, a place you can go to when life gets heavy, or maybe just for a quick, lunchtime respite from the mental grind. For some, it’s a local pub after work where everybody knows your name, but for me, it’s quickly become the Mercantile Library, where I’m delightfully anonymous. Upon entering, I’m enveloped by its hushed, almost somber embrace, a quiet that is profoundly comforting. The oversized, masculine tables and chairs are juxtaposed against Persian style rugs, grandfather clocks, a marble bust or two, and a posh grand piano in the corner. There are no stupid cell phone conversations to overhear and ring tones are conspicuously absent as well. It’s definitely my kind of Luddite love story, albeit one with a slightly curmudgeonly sub plot. So it may surprise you, as it did me, that food and beverages are allowed, making the Merc one of the most hospitable stacks around. And then last week, it all came together. I discovered that Bake’s Place, a deli on the first floor of the Mercantile building, does a decent Rueben (for $6.50) garnished with more-than-decent garlic dill pickles. Yeah, you heard me. Two toasted slabs of caraway seed-studded rye bread can barely contain all the shaved corned beef, sauerkraut, and melted Swiss. And I can now take said sandwich (not to mention those pickles) with me to my personal clubhouse. This is what I call ne plus ultra good news.
Bake’s Place, 414 Walnut St., downtown, (513) 651-3344