Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lunch with David Sax, Greenblatts's, Deli Board/Wise Son's: Another Blogger's Take

Happy April! The weather has changed, the sun is out....What better time to enjoy a pastrami sandwich then outside in the California sun. This Sunday I'm going to be at the Yelp Softball Game at Balboa Park and I'm thinking about making one of the dishes that's in the book "America's Great Delis: Recipes from Coast to Coast" by Sheryll Bellman - specifically the Corned Beef Reuben dip that was from a Baltimore Deli. I'll take pictures - but if you'd like to come to the softball game - it's an open invitation to anyone who would like to come (5$ for refreshments I believe).

There is some epic deli experience in this photo above. David Sax, author of the best-selling book "Save the Deli", is on the left with Robby Morgenstein, Owner of Miller's East Coast in the middle. David Sax is deli royalty, but he also writes for various other publications...which is why he was in SF. Sax was writing an article on Yelp and being Yelp Elite and I was obliged to give him some quotes about what being Yelp Elite entails for me. He was interested on how things have changed since I've become Yelp Elite and whether non-elite users talked to me more or if restaurant owners themselves talked to me more because they know of my Elite status. I told him I thought some owners cared more about what I write now and that I get random owners shooting me a message sometimes. Robby Morgenstein offered his opinion on yelp a few minutes later. He was upset about how frugal some of the reviews can be and said "Boy, all I have to do is look at someone wrong and they will give me a 1 star review. Ridiculous." Sitting at the table and listening to David Sax and Robby Morgenstein talk about delis and yelp was a real treat for me - I mean they are two people I respect greatly in the deli community and they're talking about the social/review network I am on daily - pretty special. For the record, I had a grilled NY pastrami as usual and David Sax had a brisket sandwich on a Kaiser roll. At the end of the meal David said to Robby "You know what I want from you next time I'm here?" Robby looked at him with excitement and David replied "I want some onion rings on my sandwich next time - right on top of the brisket." Robby asked "Thin or thick?" to which David said "It's your restaurant." Priceless.

The sandwich above is from Greenblatt's Deli in Los Angeles. Many people have suggested this place to me as having some of the best pastrami in the Southland and  I finally made it to the place - it helps they're open till 2 in the morning. The sandwich looked close to the Brooklyn Sandwich at Canter's, but upon first bite I knew this sandwich was slightly better than the Canter's pastrami. The rye bread was that crazy crispy, chewy double baked rye you only get in LA (or at least I've only found in LA) and the pastrami was machine-sliced thin, but had an excellent sweeter less spicy flavor. I was very impressed with my Greenblatt's sandwich and I recommend trying it out if you're on Sunset and feel that pastrami itch. They even have a large selection of fine wines and a big deli counter to take things to go, if you please.

I've been getting pretty chummy with the Deli Board. They know me by name and face now...and I've been going there every week consistently for the past month and I must say I'm always impressed and happy with my meal. The first sandwich above was the "Rach" which is a pastrami on dutch crunch with Russian dressing. I talked about the Bay Area's obsession with Dutch Crunch bread in this previous post and I commend Adam (Owner of Deli Board) for making a sandwich that is both Bay Area and Deli in the same package. The second picture was a trio of sliders known as the "three amigos" special. I think if they were actually the three amigos....I guess Steve Martin would be the pastrami....maybe Chevy Chase...I'm not sure. I have become a really big fan of the Deli Board's soups and salads as well...try a Board Cobb out and tell me you don't think it's excellent, big, and tasty.

I was very pleased to see another blogger's write up for the Deli Board and Wise Son's deli. Rachel Allen of the blog "The Jew and the Carrot" wrote an excellent post on the two delis and how they're opening up the Jewish Deli scene in San Francisco - check it out here and comment on her page and tell her you love Deli Board, you love or are going to try Wise Son's and that the Pastrami King sent me here....You have your instructions my pastrami subjects...make it happen. I honestly get a warm feeling inside when thinking about these two delis and how successful they have been penetrating the deli wasteland of San Francisco. Soon people will be talking about our fabulous Jewish delis - instead of making songs about how we don't have them - like this song from Rita Abrams. We, the pastrami fans of the Bay, need to work to change this attitude that we don't have any good delis in the city and Deli Board and Wise Son's are breaking the old anecdotes that "San Francisco has no worthwhile Jewish Delis". Blasphemy, I say.

Rachel did a tremendous job on her article and it made SF look progressive and hip in the deli community: Kudos Rachel! On the other side of the spectrum, I was disgusted by the recent 7x7 article on pastrami sandwiches in the city entitled "Refreshingly Unhip: SF's Oldschool Pastrami Sandwiches". Take a look at that article folks...there are many things wrong with this picture. My first issue, the writer of this article never used rye bread....ever. I'm sorry....but an "old school" pastrami sandwich comes on rye bread. I'm all for new Dutch Crunch experiments like Adam's Rach (I actually want to commend him a 2nd time down here...way to go making it both Bay Area and Deli at the same time.), but  an "old school" pastrami sandwich looks like the sandwich I got at Greenblatt's. It's on rye bread....maybe with some coleslaw...but if it were a truly traditional, old school it would come with mustard and that's it. Four of the sandwiches were on soft rolls....and one was on a Kaiser roll...not very traditional...maybe the kaiser roll...but certainly not a soft roll if you wanted "old school". My second issue with this article is the deli selection. They get gold stars for Moise's Pippic and Miller's East Coast....but the rest of the class doesn't belong in the pastrami conversation. M&L, Yellow Submarine and Roxie center were poor choices...choices that reek of someone who gets subs...but never gets pastrami sandwiches. With a little more research....7x7 could have found out that Memphis Minnie's has a special pastrami on Wednesdays or Wise Son's makes their own pastrami and serves it on Saturday...but of course those places are new, so if you really, really wanted to get Old School SF on em' they could have gone to David's Deli, Max's Opera Cafe, Lefty O'Doul's and Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness. All those places were opened some time ago, are well known to SF locals, and serve traditional pastrami sandwiches on rye bread...hell Lefty's and Tommy's hand slice the pastrami in front of you.  Burrfish on you for not taking time to do this article properly...7x7....I'm disappointed.

That's all for now, Folks.  @Pastramking on Twitter. E-mail is - my yelp address is and please join my Facebook fan page. My next post is going to be in the Bay Area most likely....was thinking about Spruce or Orson Cafe....please let me know what you'd like to see and I'll try to make it happen.


Anonymous said...

ya gotta love this blog!

all pastrami... all the time.

Bailz said...

My wife is a vegetarian. This blog restores my faith in humanity.

yausser said...

Pastrami King is the King!

Nice work, but give Rachel Allen little break. You're looking at real deli "old school." But not everyone is a purist like you are. For instance, in SoCal, "The Hat" makes an old school pastrami sandwich, but is it really authentic? Does Johnny's Pastrami in LA even deserve to be on a list? For some it does. It is "old school", but it sure ain't quality, just heaping greasy pastrami on a roll. And some will never know the difference.

Ted said...

Yausser, my father, Rachel was the one that wrote the excellent article on Deli Board and Wise Son's - she deserves praise for her good blog post. I changed that transition part so it reads more clearly. Laura Mason is the one that wrote the crappy article in 7x7 - which is one of the most influential food review magazine/websites in the City. I know that you read their "100 thing to do in SF before you die" list.

To answer your question about Johnny's...yes...that qualifies as a "classic"...but only in LA. LA is the land of the pastrami French Dip which I covered in my OG LA post that I wrote about a year and a half ago. And what is the specialty at Johnny's? Pastrami. What is the specialty at M&L, Roxie's, and Golden Gate Subs? Well I just said it....their specialty are submarines...and not necessarily pastrami. If it were a blog post and you went to one of these places just to try it out I would understand....but for a huge, wildy successful magazine - this is the best you could do for "Old School" pastrami??? I'm not buying that could've done more research about the subject and found out about Robert's Corned Meat and how long they've been in the City and where they serve their meat....Now that's freaking old school SF....founded back in 1910 by Jim Dixon.

Yausser, You're an oldschool cat, graduated from USF. Tell me do you know of Roxie's, M&L, or the Yellow Submarine? No, you don't. Now let me ask you another you know Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness? do. That place has been a staple in SF for years...and you don't mention it in an article that's supposed to be musty and old pastrami sandwiches? BTW Tommy's was established 1947.

keri said...

This is working for me. You're the friking KING!!