Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Wood Tavern & Manhattan Hub - Prelude to NYC
As I write to you now I'm also packing my bags for New York. There was big news in the deli world this past week - Mile End (http://www.mileendbrooklyn.com/) opened up just this past week in the Boreum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is the first deli in the US to sell Montreal smoked meat. I thought I was going to have to go to Canada to try this special savory fabled smoked meat, but it's just my luck that they opened the week before my trip to the East Coast! Of course I'm going to try some other places when I'm there - I'm supposed to go to Carnegie deli with my friends Nick and Chris the first night I arrive there - so I'll be eating pastrami like a king as Thursday night settles into the city sky.
Speaking of Thursday night - my good pastrami buddy David Sax is going to be in San Francisco at the Jewish Community Center on California near 15th Ave - the Richmond District. Please come out and support his cause to save the deli. I think it costs about 10$ but it said "Expect a delicious surprise." Who know whats that means, but expect something good! I feel sad I couldn't make this event - as I would like to have met some new Bay Area pastrami lovers as well as see David again - don't be sad for me though - like I said I'll be at Carnegie Deli!
This week I have two Bay Area spots to feature - the first is The Wood Tavern on College Ave, North Oakland, but you could throw a rock at Berkeley. I went to this spot the Sunday the Saints were playing the Cardinals with three friends who were all trying not to look at the game, because we had it on pause back home - how impossible!
We started with the prosciutto and whiskey laced chicken liver, accompanied with a medium cheese. It also came with small mini toasts, a Dijon mustard, and a relish or sorts. It was great to combine the prosciutto, the mustard, some cheese, and a little relish - a definite crowd pleasing taste bud tantalizer. The whiskey laced chicken liver - OMG! That was the best chicken liver I've ever tasted - the only one that'd I've had that was similar to it was The Refuge in San Carlos, CA which was a similar kind of French/California cuisine. The small difference between the two is key in the demographics they attract - The Refuge offers Belgian beers, like Chimay and Duvel attracting a younger college crowd as well as families - The Wood Tavern has lots of wines and attracts a slightly older, artsy crowd from my observations.
The sandwich came out on a baguette roll with a sharp Dijon mustard - very nice presentation. The pastrami itself was a bit greasy - not the best pastrami - certainly not as good as my last pastrami sandwich I had at Moishe's pippic the day prior. I remembered my conversation with Matt Levin of The Refuge when he told me "You know the taste of pastrami when it hasn't been cooked long enough (properly) it smells a bit like hot dogs." This was what he was talking about, it honestly reminded me of the pastrami I had at Johnny's pastrami in LA except this was spruced up with a french baguette and sharp mustard. The coleslaw was more of a dill tasting slaw, not as sweet with much less mayonnaise - not really my thing but some people liked it. The pastrami I had was just OK but, I think there is alot of potential for this place for me to return. I'd really like to try their pan fried chicken or their duck confit! I think this would be a great place to take a date too, check it out for a more schnazzy option than the average deli.
The next place I went to was Manhattan Hub in the Financial District. It was recommended by one of our good pastrami blog readers - Sam. Thanks for the suggestion Sam! I went here on MLK day, they were open till 2 PM. I fumbled with the parking meter that ate my quarter and said out of order and started walking my destination, when I got to the address I was a bit confused. This place is in the back right corner of the building if you're facing the building facade head on - really on Sacramento street, not Sansome.
The Reuben was 7.50$, with that price considered, I was very impressed with the nice marble rye bread Reuben along with the generous portion of coleslaw with a large dill pickle on top. I thought the coleslaw was out of this world good! The pastrami wasn't that great, but not a fail. It had a brine, but a very small one that didn't have a nice thin layer of fat on it that I like seeing on pastrami.The marble rye and Russian dressing were also excellent - it just wasn't that hand sliced or steaming pastrami - it seemed like it was from a pack. Still in terms of the location it's killer - I would definitely eat here regularly for lunch if I worked in the FiDi.
That's all for now folks - I'll have a bunch of material from NYC and I still have plenty to get to in the Bay Area - so expect great things to come!