Linus & Pepper’s started as a partnership between Local Icon Hospitality and The Chef’s Academy, and opened as a pop up sandwich shop in August 2015. This pop up eatery served as a teaching opportunity for culinary students to learn and work in the restaurant business under the mentorship of Chef Michael Santos. Linus & Pepper’s was met with success and became a permanent fixture at the base of The Level Up Kitchen & Barcadium in September. While The Chef’s Academy is no longer part of this joint venture, Chef Andrew Klamar of The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville has joined the team to grace downtown Raleigh with his own creations. Bits of this story made its way to me when one of my foodie coworkers told me he had discovered a new sandwich shop in walking distance of our building. I was so intrigued that by the time 11:35am rolled around, I had already made it a priority to check it out.
When I walked in, it smelled like buttered toast. This was a sign of good things to come. I love sandwiches, and I firmly believe a toasted sandwich is always better than a cold one. The space is simple with an exposed concrete wall, high tops, and a single small vase with a flower adorning each table. The sandwich bar is in the back with the register and a chalkboard boasting their menu. The menu reflects their space – interesting, clean flavors, simple. Having arrived at 11:45am, I barely missed the lunch rush, so finding a table was no problem. Sandwiches and sides for our table of three were delivered in less than 10 minutes.
I ordered the Southern with a side of potato salad (all sandwiches and sides are $9), and my coworkers ordered the Frenchy and the Big Cheese, both with house chips. The Southern is a thick sandwich, served sliced on the diagonal on buttered Texas toast. It’s the sort of sandwich that would force me decide if I should lick the butter residue off my fingers in public or if I should use a napkin like a proper adult.
The roasted turkey was moist and plentiful, and the balsamic tomato brought the acidity the heavy sandwich needed. And then of course, who can go wrong with a healthy serving of cheese and bacon? My only qualm with the sandwich was the mornay sauce (essentially a fancy cheese sauce). I wanted it to be cheesier, just because I really had to search for the flavor. And because I’m a cheesy kind of gal.
The side potato salad at Linus & Pepper’s is the big deal. Or at least, it is a big deal to me because I don’t normally like potato salad. I reluctantly ordered this side when the gentleman ringing up my order convincingly told me that it was his favorite. This particular potato salad was very light on the mayo, heavy on the mustard (you can see the mustard seeds!), perfectly chilled, lightly salted, and just creamy enough. The potatoes were also perfectly cooked. I ate it all. Zero shame.
I’ll admit to you I didn’t try the Frenchy or the Big Cheese (I was trying to not share my cold), but I’ll give you my foodie coworker’s review. Coworker #1 had the Frenchy, and reviewed it as a solid sandwich – filling, flavorful and not greasy. He thought the gouda and horsey sauce elevated this sandwich from the standard French Dip, and that the au jus had a lot of depth. He would return and order it again.
Coworker #2 had the Big Cheese (which looked very indulgent) and said it had some funky cheese, which we later identified as smoked gouda. She would probably not order it again, but would definitely come back to check the other sandwiches out. She enjoyed the side of house chips, which came out nice and hot. We all thought they had a great crunch, weren’t too oily and were well seasoned.
I’m excited to have a locally sourced sandwich shop catering to the tight schedules of the hectic lunch crowd. Linus & Pepper’s is a hidden gem amongst the downtown Raleigh lunch offerings, but I doubt it will stay hidden for long.
Address: 126 S Salisbury St, Raleigh NC
Christine Nguyen is a structural engineer working in downtown Raleigh. She is an alumna of NC State University and Virginia Tech where she was a member of the Food Science Club. Christine is an avid traveler, and a lover of good food and company. You can follow her on Instagram @atinywin.