Ahhhh, sandwiches. I am definitely an avid sandwich consumer. Meat, cheese, bread, and some added pizzazz, and I am a very happy girl. In my youth, my parents raised me on a pretty healthy diet (damn hippies), which for the most part did not include meat other than fish and poultry. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a lover of a healthy diet, but I have surely used my later years of life to explore the world of all types of red, juicy, bloody meats. In fact, I have been know to put a wide variety of exotics meats in my face (no innuendo intended), but those you’ll have to hear about that in some other articles. When my friend Heather told me that the next restaurant on our food tour was a deli, I had one thing on my mind….a ruben. As we approached the deli, she gave me the run down of some Katz Delicatessen basics. It’s one of the most famous deli’s in New York dating back to 1888, since before curing was really perfected. Presidents, actors, and loads of others esteemed individuals make it a point to visit Katz on their trips to NYC, not to mention an essential for many New Yorkers. This deli is most known for the famous scene in “When Harry Met Sally” where Meg Ryan fakes the orgasmic outburst amid the fellow diners. Heather also warned me that the sandwiches are $15. I stumbled on the sidewalk thinking, “How in the hell can any sandwich cost $15?????” I was about to find out.
The restaurant has one large main room that is lined by a counter on one side, and the wall on the other side is strewn with framed photos of the multitude of stars that have dined there. We lunged towards the counter like it had thrown out a lasso and was hypnotically pulling us in by the penetrating smell coming from behind it. The menu is simple; a variety of meats including salami, pastrami, and corned beef and fries. There may have been a few other things, but as soon as I saw the word “Ruben”, it was on like donkey kong. I ordered from the guy behind the counter, and he said, “You want to try the corned beef,” and I felt like kissing him because I didn’t know if I could wait for my sandwich to try the meat that was tickling my nose so sweetly. And sure enough, it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. Juicy, savory meat with such a complexity of flavor, it was evident that the recipe had been mastered over years and years of attempts to achieve perfection. He served up my sandwich on soft rye within seconds, and as he handed it over, I felt a tear come to my eye by the beauty in which it beheld. Piles of corned beef spilling over the sides of the bread so fresh that the hints of rye managed to push through my nostrils over the piping hot meat. Topped with melting cheese and sauerkraut, man, was I a happy camper. Each sandwich is served with pickles, pickled cucumbers, and pickled green tomatoes. Needless to say, we found the seat closest to the counter where we could dig in as fast as possible.
The look and smell of the sandwiches did not fail my taste buds. I am pretty picky about my rye bread as sometimes the rye flavor can be too powerful in a ruben. This bread was so soft, and the rye flavor was so subtle, it harmonized with the other elements of the sandwich. My teeth sunk through the endless layers of meat, which flavor was enhanced by the melted cheese and the sauerkraut. The best pickled vegetables I have had when I traveled to eastern Europe, and let me tell you, they know how to do it right. But this sauerkraut can definitely compete. And how could I forget about the pickled medley to my left???? I almost went back and asked for seconds!! Each bite sent me further and further into delusion until I was officially food stoned. There was no faking any orgasms here. I’m surprised that every client doesn’t indulge in hot outbursts while eating their sandwich! As I stumbled out of my seat in a haze for the door, Heather made sure that I had my ticket. One thing to always remember in delis like this is never loose your ticket. If you do, you’re going to be paying a lot more for this sandwich, which, after all was said and done, was definitely worth $15.