While New York is arguably the epicenter for cuisine in North America, and one can quite literally find every kind of food in the world there, no type of eatery is more iconically New York than the deli (with the lone exception of the deliciously dangerous dirty water street corner hot dog). As such, a massive sandwich at an authentic NY Deli trip was placed on our itinerary, per Kate’s exacting demands.
During my research, two names came to the top of the list: Stage Deli and Katz Deli.Torn between the two pillars of pastrami, I decided to confer with my friend and resident massive sandwich connoisseur Bill (made famous for last years recommendation of Fat Willy’s Rib Shack in Chicago).His response was prompt and to the point: “don’t go to Stage – that’s what tourists from Nebraska do”.Katz, he assured me, was the real deal and Friday’s lunch was settled.
Upon walking into Katz, you are handed a meal ticket and greeted with a rather ominous sign. “Guard that ticket with your life” Bryce sternly warned me pointing to the sign, and it was evident that the security guard at the door meant business. I still can’t deduce the true advantage for these meal tickets as opposed to regular “checks”, but I would posit they are a throwback to several generations ago. I certainly don’t remember seeing these irritating scraps of paper during the Katz Deli scenes in “When Harry Met Sally” or “Donny Brasco”.
The pastrami sandwich at Katz proved worthy of its lofty reputation. Blindingly simple in its construction, the sandwich consisted of a mere three components: pastrami, bread and a touch of deli mustard. But as you often read on this blog, perfection of the simple things are often the best. The pastrami here is carved off in luxuriously thick slabs of warm cured beef (brisket cut by the way), and piled generously high onto soft deli bread. Served warm, the meat is incredibly moist and flavorful, requiring only the slightest touch of mustard to offset the smoky saltiness. Forget about the crap you find in grocery store delis, this is what pastrami was meant to be.
Also adorning my meal were some potato Latkes, which is basically a Yiddish word for potato pancakes. Delicately fried to a golden brown the latkes were a crispy treat with a hint of onion that paired extremely well with the sour cream on the side.
I left Katz topped off for the afternoon, and reinvigorated by just how satisfying the simplest of sandwiches can really be. The only downside on the visit was a sobering reminder of the exorbitant cost of living in New York, when my “ticket” heftily punched out at over twenty five bucks for a sandwich, potatoes and iced tea.
Thanks to Bryce and Kate for joining me at Katz’s, and waiting patiently while I hoofed it over there after a Subway miscalculation.
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