BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
A goat-cheese panini oozing with caramelized onions and gingery tomato jam. Locally sourced pulled pork in a house-made barbeque sauce piled thickly between slices of jalapeño bread. Bright carrot-and-purple-cabbage coleslaw in a honey-and-celery-seed dressing, adding crunch to a turkey Reuben grilled on marbled rye.
When David Tallent dreams of sandwiches, these are the sort he sees. But they won’t be appearing on the celebrated chef’s fine dining menu at Restaurant Tallent. Instead, he’s sharing his sandwich visions with Jiffy Treet, the east-side ice cream shop on East 3rd Street and North Pete Ellis Drive.
“I wanted a sandwich that Chef Tallent would come and eat,” explains Hartzell Martel, who owns Jiffy Treet with his wife, Hilary. A longtime ice cream maker who many remember from the iconic Jiffy Treet on East Kirkwood Avenue, Hartzell inherited a menu of sloppy Joes and hot dogs when he purchased the east-side shop in 2006.
Without a background in restaurant fare, the Martels were initially reluctant to make changes to the Jiffy Treet food menu. Last fall, however, they saw how Tallent’s advice had transformed Yogi’s Grill & Bar from a watering hole to a dining destination. “We realized we could get help from one of the best chefs out there,” Hartzell says.
Tallent was personally motivated to put his skills to work in service of sandwiches, he says. “Because I’m always moving, I eat most of my meals standing up. I can really appreciate the need for good sandwiches in Bloomington.”
The next several months were spent meeting once a week in Restaurant Tallent’s kitchen, crafting spreads from scratch and testing layering strategies to melt cheese without softening slaw. Says Hartzell, “It was a lot of R&D.”
In March of this year, Jiffy Treet rolled out its new menu, which includes a club with turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar, and house-made garlic mayo on wheat berry bread; a classic Reuben with fresh sauerkraut and Swiss cheese; and a build-your-own sandwich matrix with options like sourdough bread, horseradish pickle chips, and LocalFolks Foods stone ground mustard.
The sloppy Joe endures, but is now made with locally sourced Fischer Farms ground beef and a tomato sauce cooked on site. “Nothing in our sandwiches comes from a can,” says Hilary.