2nd Avenue Deli isn’t somewhere I normally frequent…it is on the Upper East Side, it is expensive, and (let’s be honest), the pastrami can’t hold a candle to Katz’s. But, when I found myself up there for an assignment, I thought that I might as well make a meal out of it.
The deli is classic old school NYC – dark, cavernous, with a lengthy menu and servers who are either gruff , old, sassy, or some combo of the three. And awesome in their own ways. For example, if you don’t order enough, you are likely to get told that there will be a mandatory order of fries tacked onto your meal. And you will eat them, too…you don’t want to get yelled at.
LIke any good deli, you get a plate of pickles and a plate of coleslaw. The vinegary slaw is a bit more sweet than I like, but the pickles are pitch perfect. Tangy dill pickles, crunchy new pickles, and delightfully sour pickled tomatoes. A plate of these will drive your blood pressure through the roof, but are heaven when paired with a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda.
Now this…THIS is a sandwich. Fresh roasted turkey is juicy and flavorful, a good match for classic, mayonnaise-based slaw. The chopped liver is almost as good as mine – rich, minerally, a little sweet, and filled with the pungent crunch of finely diced onions. Served on musky rye bread with tangy Russian dressing, it is all good things that Jewish food is: heavy, comforting, and guilt laden.
This Jewish version of stuffing is fantastic. Moist and soft, with texture of polenta, it is filled not only with garlic and onion, but with the liquid gold that is chicken stock. This makes it fatty but not greasy, rich but not overwhelming.
Click here to see my opinions on this monstrosity.
Spoiler alert: I love it.
Each meal here ends with a tiny shot of a chocolate egg cream. There is neither egg nor cream in this old fashioned drink – just seltzer, milk, and a little chocolate syrup. The bubbly drink here is incredibly rich and chocolatey, which must be due to using the best chocolate syrup of all time, Fox’s U-Bet.
The 2nd Avenue Deli is a great representation of a classic NYC Jewish Deli. While it lacks the fantastic pastrami and old school atmosphere of Katz’s, it still has some delicious and traditional food, including that wonderful stuffed derma. The prices are high, but come on…you can easily share a sandwich and a side and be full for hours.
Or at least until your server pressures you into ordering dessert.
Gotta love that Jewish guilt.