Sunday, December 6, 2009
Seattle is a lovely place! I went the weekend of November 20th to the 22nd and I did my best to try as many pastrami places as I could, but there were a few miscues that led to me not getting to all the places I wanted to for the blog. However I enjoyed my trip very much and made it to the Seattle Center, University of Washington, the Fremont neighborhood, and various other cool locations. Above pictured is Pike's Market from Pike and 1st Ave.
I was staying at the Green Tortoise Youth Hostel which is a block away from Pike's Market. You can't really beat the location! I checked in around lunch time and headed out to Pike's to find a map. Before I could even find a map I unintentionally stumbled upon the I Love NY Deli. I approached the gentlemen and told them about my blog. "Oh, Jon (the owner) would love to meet you then. You have to go to the spot up by the University. He's normally there." The nice young man pulled out his card and handed it to me. I proceeded to order. "May I get a pastrami sandwich on marble rye with Russian dressing. I would LOVE to try one of you potato knishes. And can I get a cel-ray to wash that down?" The guy proceeded making my sandwich, the slicing machine pumping. He said to himself "This guy knows how to order." I smiled to myself and sat over in the small public seating area just to the left of the stand. The meal that came out of that small stand was a real treat!
When I opened the box the smell was very familiar. It smelled like a deli smells...right in the middle of Pike's fish market and flowers displays the smell from the box tantalized my nose just before I sank my mouth into the epic sandwich. The pastrami had a lovely brine and excellent flavor, up there with some of the great delis I love in California. The potato knish seemed to fit the environment perfectly and was good enough. I'd like to try the other flavors, but I played it safe and went with the potato, next time it's the sweet potato or garlic potato knish! As I was sitting there I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was a transplant from Massachusetts. He was enjoying his turkey on dark rye while I was telling him about my trip plans in Seattle. I told him the next place I wanted to try was Tat's deli on Occidental and he gave me fairly good directions on how to get there "go down to Pioneer square area and make a left then Occidental is the next right."
I took one more picture and then did some sight seeing for a few hours to let my stomach settle before I try to get to Tat's deli. I started the walk after getting off the monorail near Pike and 4th Ave. I got to the Pioneer Building and a statue of Chief Seattle. As I was taking a picture of Chief Seattle it started raining....no pouring. Was this an omen sent from the Chief himself?
I pulled out my umbrella and made the right turn on Occidental. As I made the turn I saw a bicycle cop kinda just wave his finger at a group of 6 or 7 menacing looking vagrants smoking crack in the middle of the rain....This place is a lot like Frisco! As I came to the door of Tat's (around 2 PM on Friday, they normally close at 4) a lady was standing in the middle of the doorway. "Yeah, we're closing...we ran out of bread." I pleaded with her "I came all the way from SF just to try Tat's pastrami, could I just sample a piece of the pastrami and I'll be on my way?" the one lady who was leaving from I presume finishing the last sandwich of the premature day backed me up "Aww, come on, let him try a little piece." she said to the woman. She kinda looked back at the interior and then back at me and finally said "No, the grill is off, we're closed. We'll be open on Sunday for the Seahawks game though come back Sunday." and then shut the door in my face. I continued back up 1st street in the rain, upset...as I got back near Pike's market area the rain cleared up and the weather was nice enough for me to enjoy the rest of Friday evening. Sadly, She was wrong about being open Sunday as the Seahawks were out of town and they were closed. I never got to try a tatstrami in Seattle.
The next day I woke up early and had a plan to try Barney's pastrami in Everett, Washington about 20 minutes North of Seattle. I had talked to the owner about 10 days prior to my coming up there and he assured that he would be "open to 4 PM for lunch on Saturday." I got started early and tried to make it for opening, so I didn't call....causing a huge detour for no reason in my trip to Seattle.
Frustration and disappointment all from a yellow piece of paper taped up to a storefront. I called when I got back to the bay to get an explanation. I asked the guy that answered the phone "Hey, why were you guys closed last Saturday?" To which the man responded "Oh I was rotating on a stick, but I'll be open till 5 today for lunch." Oh great (seething sarcasm)! Did I scare him by calling him about 10 days prior saying I wanted to try this place for my blog or was it just a slow day in Everett? I'll never know.
At this point I was pretty frustrated, I got shut down at 2 places and I had to take a bus back to the city which took about 30 minutes. I don't regret taking the ride as the scenery outside of Seattle was interesting and beautiful to see, however I greatly regret not calling the day prior.I decided that after this fiasco I was headed to the University District to check out "The Ave" as well as the I Love New York Deli location on Roosevelt. The bus pulled off I-5 and let me off somewhere on the other side of the U district at 45th Ave. I remembered the area from looking at the maps on google and proceeded on the overpass towards the University. I pulled out the card the guys gave me at the Pikes Kiosk...5200 Roosevelt I looked up and I was at Roosevelt and 45th, perfect. I had my umbrella out as it was drizzling as I pulled up to the deli from the south end. I saw through the window a lady carrying what looked like to be a big pot of soup and a guy slicing meat away at the machine.
I was tired and cold when I took the picture of the Met's Country labeled front door then I entered a truly wonderful and warm place! As I entered the same smell that had emanated from my box yesterday filled room. This was truly the complete picture of a nice neighborhood deli complete with everything under the sun. The small stand at Pike's market only had a small number of items compared to the more complete location in the University district. I walked up to the counter and asked about Jon the owner, to my dismay he wasn't around, luckily I was to reach him and tell him over the phone how impressed I was with his deli!
The special of the day was 1/2 sandwich with soup which sounded great to me on a cold, rainy day. I also ordered a potato latke on the side.
I enjoyed this rye more than the marble rye because it had a crispier more flavorful crust. The split pea soup and latke warmed my inside. When I arrived, I was tired and weary and upon leaving I felt like a new man! I had the rest of the afternoon to check out University Ave known to locals simply as "The Ave". The whole scene really reminded me of Telegraph by UC Berkeley. Lots of Thai restaurants, pizza joints, smoke shops, and just funky side shops with odd items worth looking at just once. I also got to check out the Mercer Museum which had some intersting Native American Art from the Pacific Northwest. I highly recommend you take a trip to the U District on your visit to Seattle. Make sure to have lunch at I love NY Deli at 52nd and Roosevelt! They have a webaddress http://www.ilovenewyorkdeli.net/menu.html. Check it out for a full menu.
Sunday, my last day in Seattle, I planned to go to the Fremont district where a small diner named Roxy's was pointed out by many people on Yelp as the best pastrami sandwich in Seattle. Fremont has an interesting Farmer's Market and Hypermarket (swap meet) on Sundays which I checked out just before going to Roxy's Diner. The whole neighborhood district itself was very cool to check out. They have a large rocket, a statute of Lenin, and a self proclaimed center of the Universe just a block from Roxy's Diner.
When I walked up to Roxy's diner it looked popping! There were many people waiting on the outside, smoking cigarettes, talking about what they did on their Saturday night. I walked in the diner and the place was crowded! I found a small place at the bar in the corner next to the register. The lady who helped was very friendly and asked me what i wanted. I ordered the NY pastrami (regular size, you can get bigger for more $) with a diet coke and started looking around the scene of the diner. It looked like a cool, hipster place that young people go to after a hard night of partying.
The pastrami melted in my mouth! I was truly impressed by Roxy's and it was a very cool, special spot in the neighborhood. They had characters doodled of the servers on pieces of pad paper saying funny things like "I need a drink!" I saw a picture of an Old Guy with glasses that kinda looked like the guy on the front of the Diner. I asked my server "Is that the man? the owner?" She giggled. "No, we found this in a picture frame at good will. We just like him." Roxy's seemed like a fun, cool place to go in the neighborhood, definitely check it out on Sunday along with the Fremont market. I got a cool shirt on as a souvenir that has the logo, at the bottom it reads "You can't beat our meat." I love the sense of humor! Roxy's has the very cool web address of https://pastramisandwich.com give it a look!
I had a really great time in Seattle. It's now one of my favorite cities along with SF and Paris. I just wish it didn't rain so much! When I got back to the Bay Area I got to try a place by my work Sage Lounge which has a Reuben for 8$.
I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving! I'll be in the Bay Area for the next for posts. Looking foward to meeting some new people and trying some new sandwiches.