Since I have been on a ruben/pastrami kick, I figured I would do a comparison between a couple of sandwiches that I had a couple of days apart. Two Jewish Delis, both which give you pickles at your table. Both with black and white cookies behind the front counter. Both you need to pay at the counter. One is in Denver, and one is in Santa Monica, but both are pretty darn authentic (i mean, no katz’s deli, but you get what i am talking about) and know their ways around some traditional Jewish food.
So I got to thinking that there are plenty of places that make a good sandwich, especially a good pastrami sandwich, but there is something in particular about a Jewish Deli. i recently noticed that the 2nd Avenue Deli has opened a new uptown location, and of course Katz and Carnagie Deli hold special places for sandwiches in my heart. I have very fond memories of Jewish Delis, maybe because it is a comfort food for me. Pastrami piled up high, things that I only eat on certain holidays they seem to think of as normal every day food (like kugel and matzah ball soup), and there is a sense of familiarity when you walk into one. To me walking into a Jewish Deli is sort of like walking into a time warp, where nothing really has changed, and why would you want it to? It seems to me that every Jewish Deli, no matter where it is has the same items on their menu; Latkes, Pastrami or Corned Beef on Rye, Kugel, Pickles, and Matzah Ball Soup. These are the staples, and the core elements of what makes up a classic deli. To go along with these menu items, you also have good spicy brown mustard, horseradish, and sauerkraut. Sometimes you might have some blintzes or some knishes, but not a necessity to make it.
So lets take a look at Zaidy’s in Denver… On their menu they have some specialty sandwiches. One of them is a Potato Latke Sandwich: corned beef, pastrami or brisket between two latkes. I love latkes. I love pastrami. I love sandwiches. This looks good to me….
So the sandwich comes…. 2 Giant Latkes, with a pastrami inside. I added some sauerkraut, some mustard, and some french fries…
Then I tried to pick it up….
The sandwich was really tough to hold, because the latke was hot, and the insides wanted to fall out. You couldn’t really get a good grip on the sandwich, and bite it at the same time….. So I used the big knife that came with the sandwich and cut it in half.
I was a little hesitant to do so at first, but it made life much easier for me, and I was actually able to pick up the sandwich and eat it as normally as you would eat a giant Latke Sandwich
Having the halves of the sandwich easier to eat made the whole experience of sandwich eating a lot better. I was worried that I would have to give a lower score for having weak structure, because not only could I not hold the sandwich, the sandwich couldn’t hold the insides. The meat to bread ratio was way off, because there was so much meat but in the end, I was able to compress it and eat the entire thing without having too much of it escape. The kraut added a little bit of a vinegary flavor, and the spicy mustard gave it some kick. The french fries helped increase the texture/bread and added a little bit of structure to help support the large quantities of heaping insides. When i first picked saw the sandwich and the large knife, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to eat it with my hands, but once it was cut in half, you couldn’t really notice the softness of the Latke. There was no shortage of meat on the inside of the sandwich, and there were plenty of fries and sauerkraut to go around.
The kraut was good and the mustard was spicy, but the latke could have used a little more kick… it was not super flavorful, and I was hoping for a little bit more of a crunchy shell that you find at a lot of places. i think that would have added a little bit of structure and texture to the sandwich.
Non – sandwich related:
Atmosphere: A (this place is a traditional Jewish Deli)
Service: A (they are always friendly, sometimes a little slow)
Price: A (really cheap for the amount of food you get)
Next up: Fromin’s Deli in Santa Monica
See how it compares!