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Cursed location can't get it right 


When I called Stella's to find out their hours, a man said, "I'm not sure ... hold on," muffling the phone. "Today we're closing at 2." So what time do they normally close? "Whenever," was the reply. Any hope was quickly dashed that this cursed location -- former tenants include My Beautiful Luncheonette and Mad Lyn's Café -- had finally found a match. While I was lucky that they didn't close before I got there, the smell that met me at the door foreshadowed doom.

The stench is not easy to explain -- a blend of cheap food and mildew -- but one often finds it wafting from underfrequented sandwich shops. For whatever reason, the people behind the counter looked devastated. I cheerily marched up to them, making a vague attempt to pretend I didn't notice the scourge among us. I had already decided upon the homemade soup of the day, corn chowder ($2.25), advertised in the window display. Not surprisingly, the soup was also under the dark spell. Much like the packaged slime they sell at Toys "R" Us, it was a thick, goopy mess. The flavor was unbalanced, simultaneously bland and pungent.

The sandwiches I tried were both OK. The roast beef and cheddar ($4.99) had a tasty horseradish sauce, but the meat was of inferior quality, more like prepackaged lunchmeat than sliced roast beef. The bread, however, was moist, grainy and delicious. (If I had to do it again, I'd order the sandwich without the roast beef.) The tuna wrap ($4.99) was so mediocre that it inspired no more than to say just that.

I think Stella's might be the oracle of its own fate. They really might be closing "whenever."


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