Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A 2nd life for 2nd Ave Deli

DW was skipping off to China, I was skipping off to Northern Colorado, and along with our former and current coworkers MW and LF, we had a small send-off/catch-up lunch at the new 2nd Ave Deli. It was no longer on 2nd Ave, but according to most reports little else had changed. I had never eaten at the original so I wouldn't have been able to catch any differences anyway—I just knew I wanted to give this new/old New York institution a try.
Pretty soon after we sat down, three items were placed on our table: a bowl of pickles (half sours, full sours, and a green tomato); a sweet, vinegary slaw; and a small dish of gribenes, or fried chicken skin with caramelized onions. I was only one of two people to taste them, and perhaps those who didn't knew what they were doing—aside from the novelty of it, the morsels of skin were hard instead of crunchy and tasted like grease. Good pickles and cabbage salad, though.
We ordered, and I also asked for a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda to wash down the pile of carbohydrates I was about to consume. Whose idea was it to throw celery into a sweet, fizzy beverage? Who knew that it would actually taste pretty good?
The matzoh brei was fun for about five forkfuls, them sickening for the rest. It was oily, bland, squidgy in the teeth. While I liked the chewiness and the egginess (sort of like my beloved egg pancakes in chunk form), it badly needed something to boost up its flavor. I ate some with ketchup and with caramelized onions I nicked from LF's potato peirogi, but after a while even that didn't help anymore.
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The "hush puppy," which was a hot dog inside of a potato knish instead of the little fried blobs of cornmeal I was accustomed to, was tasty, nudged along even more by dollops of mustard. It was good in that junk-food kind of way, but sat like a brick in my stomach later on.

And that photo at the very top? A complimentary shot of chocolate soda that came along with our bill, which tasted just about how you'd expect. Fizzy, chocolately, a wee bit sour from the carbonation.

So. I don't know what the original 2nd Ave Deli was like, but I wasn't that impressed with my meal, and I'm not sure my dining companions were with theirs, either. Maybe I didn't order the right things—a spoonful of DW's matzo ball soup was quite delicious, and the matzo ball itself light as air; LF's peirogi were good, too. Still, as its prices weren't too cheap, either, I'm just not sure it's worth a return visit. Ah, well.

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