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Feb 4, 2005 02:21 PM

Deli near Shaker Heights, OH

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I'm sure hundreds have asked this question in one form or another, but I can't find their answers, and I'm desperate.

Is there a really good authentic Jewish deli anywhere within 10 miles of Shaker Heights, OHIO??? Please don't say Jack's or Corky & Lenny's. Been to both and was not impressed. Don't care about ambience, although lack of it is a plus. I'm looking for delicious, homemade matzoh ball soup and tender corned beef on homemade rye. Is that too much to ask? There's like a huge Jewish population here in northeast Ohio, you'd think there'd be at least one really authentic and good deli around. Help, please. I beg of you!

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  1. try ISSI'S on cedar, MAX'S westside, or downtown RUTHIE&MOES or SLYMANS. do report back!

    4 Replies
    1. re: mrnyc

      Slyman's is more a sandwich shop than a full fledged deli and certainly not a Jewish deli. In particular, they don't have chicken soup. They do, however, have a tremendous local following. If you go, I'd like to know if the pastrami sandwich is any good. Romanian or steak? Issi's is a kosher restaurant, if I'm remembering correctly, so no rueben.

      If you're disappointed by Corky and Lenny's, then I'm not sure that I can recommend anything. What disappointed you at Corky and Lenny's? The smoked and pickled fishes are reliably good. The kishke, farfel and kreplach are also pretty good. Stuffed veal is very good. And now they serve Woo City ice cream which is enough to make the trip worthwhile all by itself.

      Which, I admit, leaves a lot that's mediocre or disappointing. I was just wondering what specifically you objected to.

      1. re: stuart

        Thanks for your posts. I must admit it was a bowl of matzoh ball soup and a TURKEY sandwich that I found offensive. I should know better than to eat a turkey sandwich at a delu, but was splitting it with my wife. Anyways, the turkey was so subpar, and the rye bread so clearly not freshly baked, that I couldn't see bothing to try the corned beef or pastrami there (unless I brought my own bread and what's the point?). The matzoh ball soup was tasteless and the matzoh ball was dense like a stone -- also tasteless.

        At Jack's, the matzoh ball soup was even worse. Tasted like watered down Campbell's chicken soup. Actually I would have preferred Campbell's I think. And the matzoh ball was just as tasteless. Seemed to be a much older crowd there, so I figure they just don't use salt or something, so the elder folks don't complain things are too salty maybe?

        Frankly, neither of these dishes -- the corned beef sandwich, nor the MB soup are that difficult. Corned beef, unless we're talking about something homemade, is gonna come packaged from a major supplier -- with nitrites and all -- and all the deli needs to do it boil it. It's like cooking by numbers. Then slice it thin and serve. The key (I think) is the bread and the presentation. Bread ought to be freshly baked or one day old at most and from a nearby bakery -- sliced fresh at the deli. Tender, salted, corned beef, fresh cut rye, Russian dressing, and crisp slaw. Not that difficult. And you'd think a decent soup stock and matzoh ball recipe would be the first thing one of these deli's would have figured out. I just don't understand...

        By the way, what about chocolate or cinnamon babka? Does anyone make it fresh and dense like Bea's Bakery in San Fernando Valley, CA? Babka, corned beef, and fine chicken soup with matzoh balls is essential Jewish eats. I just moved to OH and don't know if I'm gonna make it without these staples. I can see I'm gonna have to open a tiny deli just to satisfy my own needs.

        Thanks NYman for your suggestions. I'll try them all. And if you see a 30-ish Jewish looking guy staggering down the median on Warrensville Center Road in a haze late at night, you'll know I still haven't found what I'm looking for (of course I'll report back here too).

        1. re: Paul Aaron

          yr welcome. im just throwing those out there so you can see what sticks. try MAX'S too.

          maybe LUCYS has the babka? i know somebody had some i had it as a kid. stuart?

          1. re: mrnyc

            I agree about Corky's. It's mediocre, especially since they glammed up the joint. You might want to try Chicago Deli in Solon. It's not huge or really well-known, but I think it's pretty good. Not too much of a schlep from Shaker Hts.

            And if it's excellent matzoh ball soup you're after, dare I say this, but you might want to make your own. Hear me out. Cleveland is one of the few places I've found that sells matzoh ball mix by Croyden House. That stuff by Manischwetiz (I totally ruined that) is nasty. And that's what's sold everywhere. But in some of the better stores you can find Croyden House (box is yellow and blue as opposed to M's orange and green.) I haven't lived in Cleveland in years and my mom sends me a steady supply. It's so easy to make and it really tastes better than that shclock they sell at the delis.

            As for babka, maybe try Zoss' Swiss Bakery? They've been moving around a bit but they're so old it doesn't matter. I think as of a few months ago they were near Lander circle.

            I just moved to Omaha, and although we have more than enough cows here, decent corned beef will be quite a struggle to find.

            Good luck in your search!

    2. Well it's a bit of a hike from Shaker Square, but my mom swears by the Matzoh Ball soup at Joe's Deli and Restaurant on Hilliard in Rocky River (off I-90 on the west side). She says the matzoh is light and airy the way it should be. There's always a lunch crowd so go before 11:30 or after 1:30. I haven't tried the soup but the corned beef on rye is fresh and delicious and not too expensive. They have a large bakery selection too. BTW I don't care for Manhatten Deli or C&L, yuck! But Max's is good, also on the west side, but a bit more artsy food than straight up deli fare and probably wouldn't pass your ambiance test. Joe's, on the other hand, should fit the bill. Good luck on your quest!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Moaner

        Never tried Corkys.... new to the area, only here a few years, but always heard it is mediocre at best...however, have come to love Jacks deli, now even bigger location since move last year...great corned beef on rye, of course, from bakery next door... make sure to ask for the extra leam!!! some of the best i have ever had

      2. Um... I'm a west-sider and not any kind of a Jewish food connoisseur, but Max's has been closed for over a year (they are supposed to be re-opening somewhere else farther West I'm not sure where), and Ruthie & Moe's was closed for at least 2 years and is now Somer's. I have had their matzo ball soup and like it (I thought it was very close to Ruthie's), but as I said, I don't really know my Jewish cuisine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: marywithani

          um....sweetheart remember this revived thread is over 3 years old ;)

          so SOMERS is the new R&M's? i'm so glad the diner is back in action. how is it outside the soup? is the menu much different?

          1. re: mrnyc

            As I understand it, the food at old R&Ms/Somer's is not good. They have an existing location near 71/W 150th and it's not good there either. There was recent review that made it sound like they are buying a lot of cheap ingredients. Good customer service, friendly manager but without good ingredients to start with you're only going to get so far.

            EDITED TO ADD: It's clear their intentions are good. After the mediocre review I read last week, this response was in the Free Times this week from Somer's owner:
            I would first like to thank you for coming out to the newly established Somer's Diner ("Nothing Could be Diner," Feb. 27). I would just like you to know that we take it with a grain of salt. It is obvious that you sympathize with the situation that we have accepted and would like us to do well and for that I thank you. However, there are some things that were said that I have issues with.

            Although I do object to the timing and tone of the article, I do accept responsibility. As you know, a restaurant owner/manager cannot be everywhere at one time and I do not and have never condoned frying bacon, but I am not denying that it occurred. On that topic I cannot take back what happened but I need the general public and yourself to know that this is not a practice of mine nor my family's.

            I could respond to a lot of what was said but I believe that the damage has been done. We are not even two months into operation and we have already made numerous adjustments, and I thank you for observing that. We already have loyal customers who were infuriated at the remarks made in the article. I do not share that same opinion, but I do wish to have a chance to explain myself and the business. I would very much like the opportunity to have you as my guest at the diner to assure you that we are continually trying to bring things back to the way they were. I would like to show you that thanks in part to your article, a lot of changes have been and will be made. We are dedicated to becoming a staple of Mid-Town corridor and Cleveland.

            I am not saying that your article was all wrong because only a stupid restaurant owner could think that there are never problems with customers. You made some points that we have changed already, and although my father has a lot of experience I am still in the learning process. I assure you that the things mentioned in your article, if they were not already fixed, they will be fixed. Thank you.

            Sam Khouri
            Somer's Diner, Cleveland

        2. It's not a deli but Mr. Brisket in Cleveland Heights is selling supposedly the best corned beef and pastrami around - some will say in the US. And they will make sandwiches of them. You can't eat there (I don't think) but it's close and worth a try.

          3 Replies
          1. re: AMFM

            Mr. Brisket makes his pastrami and corned beef "from scratch" and not a package and they are both delicious. I think he also has soup and matzoh balls that are made in house and frozen, but I've never tried it.

            There is a wonderful new place in Solon (same plaza as Chicago Deli, which has never impressed me) that sells nothing but house-made soups; they have a matzoh ball soup, but again, I haven't tried it yet.

            As a relocated New Yorker, I find that I really have to make Jewish staples myself here in Cleveland. For example, there are no good knishes, period.

            1. re: NancyH

              Mr. Brisket-ohhhh yeah! Promise you won't be disappointed

              1. re: NancyH

                I did get to sample the chicken soup w/Matzoh Balls (and the Chicken Soup w/vegggies) at The Soup Pot in Solon. It it much better than Jack's; not quite as good as mine, but certainly serviceable. The Matzoh Ball Soup is a clear soup with Matzoh Balls; the Matzoh Balls are also very good (but not as good as mine!). The Chicken W/Veggies is the same soup with lots of chicken pieces and veggies. We combined the two and had them for dinner.

            2. Another joint to try is "Goodman's Sandwich Inn". They have the best corned beef I have ever tried... and they make it from scratch! The place has been there forever, and you can tell from the dent in butcher block in the window how much hand carved corned beef has gone through the place.

              I'd like to try Mr Brisket and compare!!!

              Goodman's Sandwich Inn
              5164 Pearl Rd
              Cleveland, OH 44129
              (216) 398-6885