Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been think­ing

New York Deli 420 Ca­tron St., 982-8900 Break­fast & lunch 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily No al­co­hol Take­out avail­able Veg­e­tar­ian op­tions Hand­i­capped-ac­ces­si­ble Noise level: quiet to mod­er­ately noisy Credit cards, lo­cal checks

Pasatiempo - - Restaurant Review - Laurel Glad­den

The Short Or­der

You won’t over­hear any­one ex­claim­ing, “I’ll have what she’s hav­ing!” at New York Deli’s new “Up­per East Side” lo­ca­tion on Ca­tron Street (for­merly Bagel­ma­nia). This is no Katz’s or Carnegie

Deli, and the bagels will never com­pare to the Big Ap­ple’s. But if you’re a Santa Fean — dis­placed Man­hat­tan­ite or other­wise — with a han­ker­ing for clas­sic deli food, it might cure what ails you. Rec­om­mended: Reuben, tuna melt, chicken matzo-ball soup, and cream of spinach soup. New York Deli’s “Up­per East Side” down­town restau­rant is no Katz’s or Carnegie Deli, but if you’re a Santa Fean — dis­placed Man­hat­tan­ite or other­wise — with a han­ker­ing for clas­sic deli food, it might cure what ails you. The in­te­rior of the Ca­tron Street build­ing (for­merly oc­cu­pied by Bagel­ma­nia) has been ren­o­vated since owner Jef­frey Schwartzberg re­sumed pro­pri­etor­ship of the space. The lay­out is a lit­tle more sen­si­ble, the pal­ette more vi­brant and warm, but the din­ing room is still some­what cav­ernous and util­i­tar­ian. You can al­ways sit at the counter and read a two­day-old sports sec­tion while you wait.

You’ll find plenty of old-school items on the menu. Tuna, egg, chicken, and white­fish sal­ads are served in scoops, in sand­wiches, or stuffed into toma­toes. You can or­der melon and cot­tage cheese; a Cobb salad; a patty or tuna melt; or a clas­sic deli sand­wich made with corned beef, pas­trami, salami, or roast beef. Some newer-fan­gled of­fer­ings have got­ten a foot­ing on the menu, too: a grilled­por­to­bello sand­wich, tofu scram­ble, and the “Ori­en­tal chicken salad.”

As you sit around tak­ing in the pho­tog­ra­phy of New York land­marks, you might get the feel­ing that this could be a good place to or­der a Reuben. The mere men­tion of that word incites a Pavlo­vian frenzy around my house, and I feel safe declar­ing that this is the best Reuben in Santa Fe. The kitchen’s a lit­tle stingy with the corned beef, but still, with ev­ery bite you’ll pull back a mouth­ful of crispcrusted grid­dled rye; creamy, stretchy cheese; tangy sauer­kraut; and bold, pep­pery meat. Ask for an ex­tra nap­kin — you’ll prob­a­bly need it.

Chill­ing in glass-front cool­ers are as­sorted soft drinks and teas, but please, for the love of mus­tard, or­der a Dr. Brown’s soda — prefer­ably black cherry, which au­thor David Sax has called “the li­ba­tion of choice for deli drinkers.” Yeah yeah, I know, the dreaded high fruc­tose corn syrup. Just this once won’t kill you. If you’re feel­ing wist­ful about child­hood, or­der a frothy egg cream — a drink that must have been de­signed so grown-ups could have chocolate milk with­out feel­ing silly.

Ig­nore the overly sweet coleslaw that ac­com­pa­nies most sand­wiches. If you’re go­ing to bother with sides, hunt for a nee­dle in a haystack of match­stick fries, cooked just to the point of snappy crisp­ness. The meatier French fry wedges are coated in a mildly spicy bat­ter — be­cause what fried pota­toes re­ally need is a layer of ex­tra carbs, right?

I’m not the first per­son to re­mind ex­pat Man­hat­tan­ites that bagels in Santa Fe will never mea­sure up. Once you’ve ac­cepted this fact, have one of New York Deli’s smeared with cream cheese and stacked with rosy sheets of Nova lox, thin rings of red onion, ca­pers, let­tuce, and tomato. You’re 1,700 miles from H&H and Mur­ray’s; it’ll have to suf­fice.

Both soups I sam­pled were very well sea­soned. The cream of spinach — a bright-emer­ald daily spe­cial — had a strong veg­e­tal fla­vor and an en­joy­able, al­most cheesy tang. Golden orbs of fat floated on top of the chicken matzo-ball soup’s salty sea; big, fluffy ice­bergs of matzo balls lurked be­neath the sur­face.

Some dishes are medi­ocre. The “42nd Street hoagie” was for­get­table. A fla­vor­less, oily dress­ing trans­formed the Cae­sar salad’s crisp ro­maine into a limp mess; the kitchen tried (un­suc­cess­fully) to com­pen­sate with a bliz­zard of saw­dust “Parme­san.” The crab cakes were, to their credit, heavy on the crab and light on the filler, but they seemed deep fried and were dark brown on the out­side and un­der­cooked in the cen­ter.

Al­most ev­ery­one I know has a fond mem­ory in­volv­ing the cornily ti­tled “Moons Over My Hammy” (ham, eggs, and cheese, here served on two halves of an English muf­fin). That morn­ing clas­sic is on the menu here, and you can or­der it — or any other break­fast dish — at any time of day. That’s a big point in New York Deli’s fa­vor, be­cause some­times, es­pe­cially when you’re feel­ing nos­tal­gic or home­sick, the best thing to eat for lunch is break­fast.

Rat­ings range from 0 to 4 chiles, in­clud­ing half chiles. This re­flects the re­viewer’s ex­pe­ri­ence with re­gard to food and drink, at­mos­phere, ser­vice, and value.

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