854 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Naturally a high quality deli is a must when visiting New York. We decided on Carnegie over Katz primarily because of location and time. Carnegie deli is arguably the most famous restaurant of its kind and certainly among the most visited delicatessens in the world. Food is prepared behind the counter at the front of the restaurant where diners can also opt for take-out. Deeper inside there are two dining rooms, prepare to get very comfortable with your neighbors as there is barely any room not covered by tables and chairs. The staff is also a touch surly, but that is supposedly part of the charm of the restaurant, a chance to give tourists a taste of New York charm. The waitresses hurriedly guide you to your table and stand by impatiently as you slowly navigate the sea of bodies to get to a seat, kind of reminds me of Chinese restaurants back home. The walls of the dining room are covered almost completely with autographed pictures of celebrities who have dined in the restaurant and they diners a sense of the immense fame and popularity of the deli.
The restaurant has quite a few annoying policies, but I guess they can get away with it. There is a 3 dollar charge on splitting food and a minimum order of $12.95 per person, which oddly enough must include an entree. Our waitress was kind enough to waive the requirements for the table. One of my companions wanted to order the fish, but our waitress disuaded her saying they only served about one per year. She then opted for gefilte fish but was again persuaded to try something else and she ended up settling on the breakfast sausage.
There were two types of pickles sitting in a plate on the table. I was a bit wary of the cleanliness but figured I should at least try one. I opted for the lighter green one and found it tart and crunchy. My companion likened it to the sliced pickles on a Big Mac. The other pickle was harder with a dull crunch and the natural cucumber flavor more apparent.
One of our friends joined us for lunch and since she "doesn't do delis," she opted for a sausage instead of some more traditional fare, although I don't believe she actually tried any of the sausage either. The sausage was nice and plump with a nice firm casing and a fairly traditional flavor. Not bad, but certainly not what made the deli famous.
French Fried Onion Rings
In addition to the sausage, our New York native decided to try the onion rings. I found the batter too soft for my liking. One of my friends astutely noted this tasted more like onion tempura than a traditional onion ring.
The Woody Allen
We originally wanted to try the pastrami and the corned beef, quintessential meats at any deli. Having seen the gargantuan proportions of their sandwiches we decided to be more efficient and get both meats combined into one sandwich, The Woody Allen. The sandwich was named after the actor/director after he filmed the movie Broadway Danny Rose in the deli. Humorously the menu mentions it is the restaurant that made the movie famous. Regardless the sandwich is enormous, with a thick pile of pastrami and corned beef sandwiched between two slices of rye. Both meats are among the best I have ever tasted although I preferred the pastrami for its smoky peppery bite over the milder corned beef. Even our friend who doesn't eat deli meats enjoyed the sandwich.
While the restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, diners would be better served sticking to the classics. On the whole, Carnegie lived up to my expectations, serving delicious cured meat in dangerously large portions. Even though the portions are immense, the meat is so good it is all too easy to wind up finishing the whole thing.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
854 7th Ave