In the continuing series of "Sandra and the Jagendorfs Have Lunch," we bring you Katz's Delicatessen. Twenty-two years of life and I haven't yet been to Katz's. Heck, twenty-two years of life and I haven't even had real deli-styled cold cut sandwiches (see our disastrous experience ordering food at Lansky's). I have once stopped by the outside of Katz's to gaze adoringly at their neatly hung salami and hilarious old-school neon signs, but I've always heard it was quite expensive.
Expensive, but as I found out, so worth it. It wasn't very crowded on the day we went, so we got a nice table to stretch out and walked around the different stations to look at hunks of meat being carved and tubes of meat being roasted. The counters that lined the wall had buckets of sour and not-that-sour pickles. All the walls were heavily adorned with framed photos of celebrities, old ads, and other pieces of New York history.
Our food came pretty quickly. The waiter wrote on our little ticket stubs - each patron receives a ticket and they keep you prisoner in the restaurant if you lose it before you leave. Just kidding, but they charge you an astronomical $50 if you do lose it. We got a plate with a trio of meats and breads to make our own sandwiches and a plate of steak fries. The menu - hilariously - notes that the trio is enough for three tourists, or one regular New Yorker. Here's proof of my real roots: I looked at the plate of sliced meat and I thought, "Hey, I could eat all that." Mmm, I was excited.
I made open-faced sandwiches for each of the meats: pastrami, corned beef, and brisket. First, a neat and even squirt of mustard out of the well-worn, sticky squeeze bottle, onto a piece of white bread. Then, about three thick-cut slices of meat. Then, bite, chew, savor, and repeat.
How was it?
The meat melted in my mouth. All the different cuts were salty, fatty, and tender. My taste buds are not yet refined enough to tell the difference between the three, but hopefully some day. I had a totally different concept of deli meats in my mind: all I knew were the definitely un-kosher pre-packaged Oscar Meyer hams and bolognas, or at the very best, sliced Boar's Head or whatever was cheapest at my supermarket. But this. Oh, this. So good. I think I need to kidnap one of the workers and have them personally make me sandwiches all the time.