Restau­rant Re­view

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

New York Deli South­side

Years ago, I ate a cou­ple of times at Bar­ney Green­grass, a leg­endary deli and restau­rant on Man­hat­tan’s Up­per West Side. Opened in 1908, it was named for its founder, who was known as the Stur­geon King be­cause his place was fa­mous for that fish and for caviar. It still is, and this is also a great spot to try lox, her­ring, and other less-costly good­ies like bagels and knishes. The writer Ron Rosenbaum, a long­time chron­i­cler of New York splen­dors, once called the chopped liver served at Bar­ney Green­grass “a supreme achieve­ment of Jewish Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion.”

In Santa Fe, the clos­est thing we have to that are the two lo­ca­tions of the New York Deli — the so-called Up­per East Side branch on Ca­tron Street and the South­side branch, near the cor­ner of Cer­ril­los and Rodeo roads. Both have New York roots, hinted at on the cov­ers of their menus, which say, in part, “Fam­ily Bak­ers & Res­tau­ra­teurs Since 1931.” That’s a nod to Hy­man Schwartzberg — the fa­ther of New York Deli founder Jef­frey Schwartzberg — who es­tab­lished him­self as a bialy maker in New York in the first half of the 20th cen­tury.

The South­side deli, a small, func­tional space next to a Baskin-Rob­bins, has been in busi­ness since 1997. Its menu is big — five densely packed pages — and there are plenty of choices for break­fast and lunch: egg dishes and egg sand­wiches, omelets and sev­eral kinds of eggs Bene­dict, pancakes, blintzes, bagels, bialys, New Mex­ico sta­ples like huevos rancheros and a break­fast bur­rito, sal­ads, soups, deli sand­wiches, he­roes, and ham­burg­ers. What you don’t see is much fish — which isn’t sur­pris­ing, given our land­locked lo­ca­tion. So there’s no caviar or stur­geon here, but there is cold-brined salmon, which you can en­joy on a bagel, in a sand­wich, or as part of a cream-cheese spread. You can also get fish and chips or a shrimp plat­ter.

I like this kind of food, and I en­joyed much of what I had dur­ing two vis­its, but the South­side deli has a con­sis­tency prob­lem. The first trip was for lunch, and I got things off to a Brook­lyn-style start with an egg cream — a re­fresh­ing fizzy foun­tain drink that, strangely enough, doesn’t con­tain any egg or cream. (It’s a blend of milk, choco­late or vanilla syrup, and seltzer wa­ter.) Mine was pretty good, as was the cup of matzo ball soup I had with it, which car­ried a rich taste of fatty chicken broth.

Af­ter that I tried the deli’s Ital­ian sub — a big step back­ward. The cooks take a dense, dull white-bread hoagie roll and slice it through the mid­dle, slather­ing both sides with pun­gent may­on­naise and then putting in lay­ers of salami, ham, pep­per­oni, pro­volone, let­tuce, and tomato. The re­sult is mo­not­o­nous. This sand­wich would ben­e­fit from bet­ter in­gre­di­ents — good olive oil in­stead of mayo, for starters — and a few ex­tras, like roasted red pep­pers or olives, which would add a va­ri­ety of fla­vors. On a brighter note, my friend’s Reuben sand­wich — corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauer­kraut on grilled rye — was gooey and good.

Dur­ing the next trip, for break­fast, we started with a plate of blintzes — folded thin pancakes with a sweet and cheesy fill­ing. Not bad, but the ex­te­rior needed more of a brown, sa­vory crunch. I or­dered an egg dish called eggs Yu­cate­cos, which con­sists of two fried eggs and black beans on corn tor­tillas with green chile, feta cheese, and ba­nanas. This com­bi­na­tion, bet­ter known as huevos mo­tuleños, is great when it works. But the South­side ver­sion of the dish was hob­bled by bland in­gre­di­ents, an over­load of feta, and a soggy tex­ture; to make mat­ters worse, an un­ap­pe­tiz­ing pud­dle of dis­col­ored wa­ter col­lected at the bot­tom of my plate. My friend or­dered the South­west eggs Bene­dict, which fea­tures green chile hol­landaise and chorizo — but it was bland, too. There wasn’t enough green chile for that fla­vor to as­sert it­self and, again, the whole dish was wa­tery.

As I knew I must, I tried one of the deli’s sig­na­ture of­fer­ings: a bagel with Nova salmon and cream cheese. If you or­der this “deluxe,” you get a sub­stan­tial meal: a toasted bagel, cream cheese in your choice of fla­vors (I had the scal­lion), salmon, tomato, red onion, cu­cum­ber, sprouts, kala­mata olives, and ca­pers. The salmon was high-qual­ity stuff, and the deli was gen­er­ous with it. Since I won’t be get­ting to Bar­ney Green­grass any­time soon, I’ll go back to the South­side deli for this in­stead.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.