Yesterday I had the pleasure to meet up with a longtime virtual friend in this deli crazy world, and have a nosh. Jason Perlow is an extremely well known food blogger from New Jersey, and was an early supporter of Save the Deli. His blog, Off the Broiler, is massive, and the man can eat!
We met at Pastrami Queen, an excellent little kosher deli on the Upper East Side, so that Jason could interview me for his site about the book. You’ll see the interview (actually podcast) come October, but I want to share with you the joys of our meal, as written by Jason himself in Off the Broiler.
The old school New York Jewish Deli is going extinct. We have perhaps less than a dozen notable places in Manhattan, let alone the five boroughs that conform to the classic Jewish Deli archetype where you can get a good Pastrami or Corned Beef sandwich, and I may even have to downgrade that dozen to less than a handful, including Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli (which re-opened in 2008 in a new location) , Carnegie, The Stage, Sarge’s and Junior’s (which has really focused on its cheesecake business now more than anything else, although they do a great burger). All of those landmark delis are either downtown or in Midtown. Other fine examples, like Liebman’s in the Bronx, are lesser known but are part of the city’s restaurant culture that is in rapid decline.
Pastrami Queen, on the upper east side of Manhattan, is one of the few remaining hold outs of classic Jewish Deli tradition. Pastrami Queen is also under Kosher supervision, but it is not “Glatt” like Liebman’s in the Bronx. The only other well-known deli that has actual Kosher status in Manhattan is 2nd Avenue.
How was the meal? Quite excellent. Though it has barely ten seats, and is a pretty sleepy place, Pastrami Queen is a gem of kosher delis in New York, and especially Manhattan. They cut the meat thick, steam it perfectly, and serve it on the best rye bread in the city (from Orwasher’s). It’s solid. The strudel is killer, the cabbage roll dense (a bit too sweet for me) and the knishes are like clouds wrapped in dough.
I will say this. Perlow is passionate. A true lover of deli and real ethnic food, who genuinely fears for the future of this. He’s a kindred spirit and a world class fresser, and I urge you to get over to his blog and check every single post out. You’ll eat like a king just by reading.
Me, by Perlow