When you go to New York for the first time there are a few things you do that feel so cliche that it feels as if you're wearing a reflective safety vest that reads 'tourist.' Paying $20 to go up the Empire State building, stopping in the middle of Time Square to stare wild eyed up at the flashing lights or strolling in central park with a 'I heart NY' t-shirt are in that category. The sad thing is that if you miss out on one of these slightly embarassing activities it feels as if your NYC experience just isn't complete. Considering the pop culture exposure Katz's Deli received after the infamous Meg Ryan vs Sandwich scene one must consider a visit to this restaurant as one of those New York cliches that just must be done for the sake of future regret.
As you walk up to the long carving counter that anchors the dining room the question of whether a smoked and cured meat can be so good as to induce/feign the 'excitement' inevitably comes to mind. The answer is a resounding yes. Unlike the flaccid, wafer thin slices of pastrami that haunted my childhood lunch box; the pastrami at Katz's was thick, juicy and literally lip smacking. As the meat is carved to order it stays moist and warm, and makes for the perfect accompaniment to the slices of soft rye bread slathered with mustard and a side of house made pickles.
|Pastrami on rye (both halves make up 1 sandwich) // $16|
Since one can't live on pastrami alone, we also tried the chopped liver appetizer. For those liver haters our there, this dish is a great way to get hooked on the deep rich flavors of offal as the spread was smooth, and the strong minerally-ness of liver was subdued by the addition of cooked onions and chopped hard boiled egg.
|Chopped liver appetizer // $7.50|
We were at first taken aback by the $16 price tag of the pastrami on rye and wondered if the high price was related to our proximity to the aforementioned 'Meg Ryan' table or if was because the pastrami was just that darn good. It turns out that after sampling pastrami at other delis, the thickness and juiciness found with Katz's couldn't be replicated.