I love eating in a deli: they have simple and hearty food that can be so good! I never knew what a deli was before coming to this country as we do not have this in France.
Deli comes from delikatessen (German) inherited from délicatesse in French and means delicates things to eat! It is typically stores where you will buy food by their weight. In some European countries, delicatessen are fine grocery stores. New York is well known for deli and outside the big apple, some deli will even call themselves New York deli! The most famous ones in New York are: Katz's (also famous because of the movie "when Harry met Sally" - I am sure they are fed up to be reminded), Carnegie Deli and Second Avenue Deli. I would personally add Junior's.
The Second Avenue Deli opened in 1954 on the second avenue, but had to close from its original location because of a rent increase and dispute. It reopened in 2007, after a two years hiatus, right below Murray Hill and has now a second location on the Upper East Side. Its history has been marked by the dramatic murder of its owner in 1996 during a robbery and they are still offering a reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of the murderer.
The menu offers traditional deli dishes like matzo ball soup, potato pancake, chopped liver, as well as new items such as smoked fishes.
So, we decided to go for a nice little lunch. The restaurant was not as packed as what I thought. Maybe because of its location. This place has a nice nostalgic atmosphere with the booths and the old photos on the wall. The service was courteous and efficient, although they were ready to clear the table before we finished eating!!! What I like in deli, is that they bring you pickles and cabbage in different forms (pickled or as a slaw) at the beginning! The pickles were sour pickles, very good but also very, very salty! We tried three of their specialties:
- The matzo ball soup: it was served with spaetzles (egg noodles from Eastern Europe), carrots and dill. The soup was good, but not as good as Junior's: the broth was not as tasty, same for the matzo ball.
- The potato pancake with apple sauce (you can pick sour cream). It was ok. The apple sauce was not that great and the potato pancake was kind of tasteless. Once again, Junior's is the best.
- Hot Pastrami sandwich: this was good. The meat was fatty enough and tasty. They serve it on rye bread only. I put some cabbage to add some crunchiness to the sandwich.
At the end of the meal, they offered us a Bosco chocolate soda shot: this was a nice touch. First time I tried and I liked it! Pretty interesting to have a cold sparkling cocoa!
So, at the end, the food was not bad, but I definitely prefer Junior's or the incredible Pastrami Reuben at Friedman's in Chelsea Market!!!
Enjoy (I did)!
And remember: I just want to eat!