Archive for September 6, 2009

Real Deli

September 6, 2009 1 comment


A short note about one of my great pleasures in life before I shut down the computer and pack. We’re on Long Island, having gotten to our hotel around 6:30 last night, and tomorrow morning we take an 8:45 flight up to Nantucket, so we’ll be out of here pretty early tomorrow to get to LaGuardia.

We had dinner tonight at Ben’s. When it comes to kosher delis, Ben’s may not be among the best, but it’s certainly the real thing, and we had been away too long. (According to my calendar, we last ate there on August trips to Long Island in 2005 and 2004.) I only wish that Joel were here to enjoy it with us, given his appreciation for the artifacts of New York Jewish culture. Or maybe I should simply say New York culture, since true deli is a part of New York life shared by all.

Gail and I sat down at a two-person booth with our over-sized menus. (You can see the menu yourself at the website.) We didn’t study them for long though. We went for the usual. But before we even ordered, a busboy put down a pickle tray, a cole slaw tray, a basket of bread and margarine (no butter at kosher restaurants!), small dishes for the cole slaw and pickles, and water. A meal in itself. Gail ordered matzoh ball soup and a side potato pancake. I ordered an extra lean corned beef sandwich and my favorite of all soft drinks, a Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda. The waitress brought the soup in less than a minute, with a giant matzoh ball in the middle. (Again, Ben’s isn’t the best. No one makes matzoh balls like my grandmother’sGail’s. ) The waitress also brought a second bowl, a small ladle, and a second soup spoon, assuming I would be needing them. A few minutes later, the sandwich and potato pancake came, with an extra plate in case we wanted to split them. Gail was content to do without the corned beef, so I took half home, but just writing this made me hungry, so I have been eating it as I write. We also can’t go to a New York deli without having seven-layer cake. We ordered a piece to go. Oddly enough, it has 8 layers, but it’s the same idea — alternating layers of thin yellow cake and chocolate icing, with thicker chocolate icing coating the top and sides.

Why are delis like this so hard to find outside New York and LA? I used to think only New York had real delis, but thanks to our friend Cynthia, we were introduced some years ago to two great LA delis, Canter’s and Junior’s. I would happily have either in Seattle. But I don’t. And I don’t get to them often enough here in New York. I’m sure glad I did tonight. It was a welcome treat.

Categories: Food, Restaurants, Travel