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Sep 26, 2006 08:32 PM

NY Deli Style Huge Combo Sandwiches Now at House of Bagels

House of Bagels on the north side of Geary at 14th. ave. is now serving a good sized menu of very interesting huge stuffed combo sandwiches and sides a la NYC's Carnegie Deli. I wished I had been feeling better, I've been ill lately and I just stumbled in on the way back from the High Holy Days services to get a couple dozen bagels for my freezer - so I really couldn't concentrate on the whole menu in order to do the kind of report I would otherwise have enjoyed writing for you.

But there were more people waiting on line, and apparently salivating, than I have ever seen at the House of Bagels before. The man waiting in front of me said he was back for the second day, that the pastrami sandwich he had enjoyed the day before was the best he had ever tasted and he just could not stop thinking about it and had to get another. When I hear something like that it is a red alert! So, I immediately decided to expand my own order to include a pound of that pastrami - thin sliced, please. But, to me, rather than buying a sandwich, it makes more sense and saves money to just buy my own ingredients and make the sand. at home. So, I have to admit...that WAS the best pastrami I too have ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of pastrami. It was uniquely both extremely lean, really no fat at all, and inexplicably tender...two attributes of meat that are almost never found together. Moist and very flavoful too. But not sweet. So I used TJ's sweet hot mustard when I made a perfect sandwich later with House of Bagel's very good thick sliced corn rye. The pastrami is sliced to order for $11 a pound.

Their new sandwich menu seems to include just about anything you could possibly ask from a good NYC deli that was somehow magically transported to the Richmond district of SF. They have (and I bought) whitefish salad for $10 a pound. It is the bomb. And I love whitefish salad (on a bagel with thin sliced onions). As you no doubt know....whitefish salad is not a salad at all - it's a schmear. But it's so good you'll want to eat it with a spoon. House of Bagels now must have at least a couple of dozen interesting Carnegie Deli style huge combo sandwiches to choose from. For example, pastrami or corned beef, cole slaw, chopped chicken liver, and swiss cheese all together on rye. You can get the sandwiches grilled if you want. They are all available in three different sizes with commensurate prices.

House of Bagels seems to have also expanded both the sweet and savory bakery offerings. For example, I noticed a few different kinds of rugelach - cherry even, which I prefer to the standard raisin. I've always maintained their huge brownies were the best and best bargain (for a brownie) in town. And they have the special round Rosh Hashana challahs and also even challahs filled with dried fruits. You have to give them credit for that. It's hard to even find challahs at all in SF, let alone specialty challahs. Likewise the extrememly generous selection of rye breads: they must have something approaching a dozen different rye breads...well 8 or 9 anyway. All the sandwich ingredients and half sour pickles and pickled tomatoes are also available by the pound.

But do check out those new big crazy sandwiches!
Seating in the back. One of these sandwiches and something to drink would make the perfect lunch (for two?) if you were on your way out to the park or beach.

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  1. Do you usually like your pastrami lean or was this an exception?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Kind of a good question, I guess. If by it you were trying to ascertain whether by "good" I meant not fatty. No indeed. I love fat when it's tasty and adds something important to the gestalt, such as a delicious unctuous moistness that is usually missing in leaner meat. That is the wonderful paradox in House of Bagel's pastrami. It's just so darned good. AND there was no fat. Not that I care one way or another about the fat. But there was none.

    2. Thanks for the tip off!
      i will need to make a special trip this weekend to sniff it out and see if anything catches my fancy....
      How are they stacked up for smoked fishes? do they have herrings in sour cream and onions?!?!?! that is something i am particularly craving lately.

      8 Replies
      1. re: jupiter

        For the herrings of your dreams head just a bit further out on Geary to New World Market on the south side of Geary around 20th. ave. They have a LOT of smoked fish delights and many, many authentic Eastern European/Russian take-out food fantasy items - I don't even know where to start. I've written a few long posts about their fabulous inventory here before - maybe you can search them out. But House of Bagels is more NYC type deli sandwiches/bakery. They may well have herring. As I said, I was kind of in a dazed rush and forgot to grab a take out menu as is my usual habit - so I don't know. But you'd love House of Bagel's whitefish "salad" Last time I was in New World Market I counted 20 different types of herring. Here's a tip for you. If you love herring but are somehow stuck with only the supermarket jar type available for some reason - wash it off and mix it with thin sliced onions, sour cream, and peeled, chopped sweet apples. Delish! And so easy.

        1. re: niki rothman

          just get's better and better. i usually end up at the European Market on Clement and 32nd, so thanks for the infor about New World Market.
          I will look into it.

          1. re: jupiter

            Funny you should mention the European Market. I stopped in there for lox on the same trip as the House of Bagels on the strength of my mother in law's rec. I was very disappointed in the quality of the lox at European. European has a smaller selection over-all than New World. I was interested in the knishes at European but they were so very tiny - $1 each - so I didn't buy them. New World has baked not fried piroshkis about three times the size for $1 each - cabbage, potato, and meat are great heated up with a little sour cream on them. At European I bought the vareniki - chicken, mushroom and cabbage, and farmer's cheese - but I have not tried them yet. Also bought European's smoky eggplant caviar which is very good, if a little too salty. What do you like there?

            1. re: niki rothman

              My good friends live around the corner so we are usually in there for fresh bread and frozen Pelmeni. (they are vegetarians, so i can't convince them to ever go in on and of the array of sausages or smoked fishes that catch my eye.

              They are a little pricey but the pelmeni are yum deelish.
              at least, the veggie ones are...

              Now i am even MORE intrigued to try New World Market!

              1. re: jupiter

                You are right about the bread at European. I thought they had a really big and interesting selection of breads. What breads do they sell do you like the best? And about pelmeni as opposed to vareniki, I will have to try those veggie pelmeni that you recommend. How do you like to serve them? Butter, sour cream, with soup? I served the meat and potato varenikis with very thin sliced cabbage, carrots that I had steamed and then mixed in some sour cream, sliced green onion, and a little lemon juice. I noticed that New World also has sour cherry vareniki, but I have not tried them. Sounds interesting. They give you a free container of the juice along with them. One of my favorite things I always buy at New World is dried whole kasha - buckwheat groats, which are usually kind of hard to find - so I stock up. One thing they make that is wonderful is called Julien, mushrooms baked in sour cream. They are on a self serve steam table near the front door, with plastic containers, where they have things like stuffed cabbage.

          2. re: niki rothman

            I can't leave New World Market without adding their sour cream,butter...and blintzes to the shopping basket! ah, those "samples"!

            1. re: Cynsa

              Try the farmer's cheese at New World. It is absolutely wonderful. Completely different and much better than what generally passes for farmer's cheese in SF.
              It is very soft, fine textured, not sour - perfect for cooking. They have several varieties - low fat, no salt, etc. I prefer the regular.
              And you are SO right about the sour cream. Their generic sour cream is by far the best sour cream I have ever tasted. Also a completely different animal from what passes as sour cream in our supermarkets. It has a "pure" taste that I wish I had a better word to describe. Like Plugra butter has a kind of purity - a specialness missing from supermarket butters. I am going to have to try that New World Market butter now too. And the blintzes - do they have more than just cheese blintzes? What kind is your favorite?
              Thanks for the tips.

              1. re: niki rothman

                They have cheese, cherry, cherry and cheese...and Mushroom which is my favorite!

        2. How did the brisket look and is that just past Park Presidio?

          7 Replies
          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            As far as any of these 3 places we have been discussing goes - I didn't notice if they actually had brisket or not. You could call and ask them. Park Presidio is the replacement name for bad luck 13th. ave. - so yes, 14th. is just past it.

            1. re: niki rothman

              No, Park Presidio is an "in between" street. As any San Francisco kid from the Avenues could tell you,7-6=Arguello and 7+6=Funston.

              Glad to see HOB on the rise. In the 44 years I've been here, they've ALWAYS been my go-to place for New York style bagels.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                I'm stumped now. Are you saying there IS a 13th. ave? Like the 13th. floor where all the scary stuff happens in horror movies? Maybe you're the only one who has ever seen it. Uh oh...
                Anyhow, like you, I always felt HOB was the best bagel in town. But sometimes, and it's unpredictable but if you shop there much you have surely noticed, HOB bagels can be, there is no other word for it: tough. Like, OK I bought 2 dozen - a mix of "everything", pumpernickel, and egg. The egg bagels had this weird hard shell that is kind of unappetizing. I'm going to try wrapping each one prior to consumption in foil with a little water and baking in the toaster oven for a few minutes to try to soften it.

                Have you tried Izzy's Bagels? Izzy's are pretty darned perfect and definitely superior to HOB. Trouble is that a couple of times we have driven down there, they have been closed. And it's kind of an out of the way location even when we are driving the car and it's not on any bus route I take. Izzy's is all the way downtown on Townsend St.
                Check it out.

                1. re: niki rothman

                  No, I'm saying that Funston is the "Platzhalter" for 13th Avenue. If you look at the spacing of the streets, Funston is where 13th would be and Park Presidio was carved out between Funston/13th and 14th.

                  I have to say I don't crave New York bagels as much as I did before I discovered Montreal bagels. (But I haven't made a final judgement on pastrami vs. Montreal smoked meat.)

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Well OK then Gary, I know what "Plotz" means in yiddish - it's slang for dying, or being in emotional extremis of some dramatic sort. But, "Platzhalter"? I'm going to take a wild guess from the context and say "placeholder"? OK, then...

                    I've actually had that Canadian "smoked meat" as they call it - but in Toronto. Sort of mystery meat, but I'm guessing bottom round - it is definitely beef. It was OK, but I like pastrami a lot better. The smoked meat that seemed pretty ubiquitous in Toronto luncheonettes seemed more bland than pastrami, lacking pastrami's sweet spice profile of cloves with a crust of cracked black pepper.

                    1. re: niki rothman

                      Good guess, though "Platzhalter" is broader than just "place holder" and can mean, for example, "dummy variable." Smoked meat should be brisket, I believe. I wasn't impressed with it either until I had my epiphany at Schwartz's in Montreal ("medium fat, please"). Getting it in Toronto would be a sacrilege.

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        So...have you tasted Izzy's bagels? What did you think?

          2. yeah, hob is just west of pp, on the north side.
            man, this all sounds good. thanks niki. you know what they say, starve a fever...
            anyway, hope the pastrami cure works for you.

            1. Great heads-up Nicky. Here's the website so you don't need the menu.


              9 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                rw, you always deliver the goods! D'oh! Of course they have...a website! And I was around the three hundredth person to actually visit it. To quote Satchmo: "...What a wonderful world!"

                So many interesting sandwiches, so little time! But...OK now, just tell me what is that scary looking thing that the bagel morphs into on their "what we sell" screen. Brains? House of Bagels has started selling brains along with their new "stuffed" sandwiches? Seriously, though...FIVE kinds of reuben sandwiches? Yikes!

                Just a quickie response, that website will require a lot of research - mainly to decide what to buy the next time I get over there. I may not get any sleep tonight. The "what we sell" screen alone is very interesting. Apparently, they are making their lox (it's nova too) from locally caught salmon. Nice. Kugels - potato too, latkes (I love latkes!), bagel dogs with Hebrew National dogs (I've never eaten a bagel dog. Should I? Shouldn't I?), matzoh ball soup, 12 oz. of meat on the big sandwiches - that IS a big sandwich considering there's a lot more on a lot of these sandwiches than just that 12 oz. of meat. And it's kind of cute: that Reform Judaism style nod to Halacha and the abstract concept of "kosher" - combining meat and dairy all over the place, but not a hint of a pork product anywhere on the premises. It IS true though, my relatives all love a cheeseburger but they they would never, ever eat any pork - they think it's nasty.

                But, I wonder if this House o' Bagels new, big menu expansion means any improvement in other areas of the operation? After all, caveat emptor...not everything House of Bagels sells was all that great. Their "Lindsor" (Linzer?) cookie which cruelly mocked my ongoing frustration at being completely unable to find my beloved linzertorte anywhere in SF (and I refuse to pay $6 for that nasty little sliver at the JCC). House o' Bagel's approximation, in the form of this "lindsor" cookie was absolutely vile. Their knishes were stale and tough. But, maybe the surge in business will mean a faster turnover and a fresher, tastier knish? Their black and white cookies were no good. And while their advertising is correct, their bagels ARE real bagels (unlike Noah's hamburger buns), sometimes House o' bagel's bagels can be tough, and they are still decidedly stingy with the toppings, like on the onion and "everything" bagels, "everything" my ass. So other areas at House o' Bagels, aside from these wonderful new sandwiches, could still stand a lot of improvement. We shall see.

                1. re: niki rothman

                  Yeah, I was wondering about that. It seems from their site that the re-model was in Jan 2006. I agree everything wasn't too great at HOB, I wonder if some stuff is changing for the better.

                  I was surprised about the web site, but decided to try and search for it. It has been years since I've been to HOB and don't remember alot of the stuff listed on the website.

                  Nice that they are carrying Gus's pickles, half-sours (I would kill for a good half-sour) and tomatoes. I would have went with Acme for the herring, but that's just me. Next time you are at Berkely Bowl, pick up a jar of the Acme herring, wonderful.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Well, exactly. Lasco herring sucks. Thanks so much for the tip about Acme herring at the Berkeley Bowl. I really love herring but find the 20 plus varieties of herring at New World Market, for some reason, intimidating. I actually bought a whole 18 inch long shrink wrapped herring there for under $2 - but I just did not have a clue what to do with it and after having it balefully staring at me for months whenever I'd open the fridge, finally gave it away to my mother!

                  2. re: niki rothman

                    I'm having trouble believing you can't get linzertorte in SF -- it's a standard German/Austrian dessert, not specifically Jewish. Hmmm ... Schubert's doesn't seem to have it. Maybe the French Bakery Brotherhood has forced all the German/Viennese-style baked-goods underground.

                  3. re: rworange

                    They don't have tongue (face falls). I was getting ready to drive out there tomorrow, and it's still worth a trip, but what I'd give for a tongue sandwich on good rye...

                    1. re: bernalgirl

                      Good point. My husband loves tongue but I have always adamantly refused to cook it based on a very traumatic early childhood encounter with one that was sitting on my grandmother's kitchen counter. Anyway, if you are a tongue lover, based on their recent big changes, this would be the perfect time to suggest another change - to start offering tongue on the menu. After all, it's just on a chalkboard. Personally, I'm planning to suggest to them that they offer different herring - Lasco is like, what were they thinking? Choosing the absolute worst herring on the market. And the change that would catapault their sweet baked goods into the stratosphere would be to start using butter.

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        Lasco happens to be certified Kosher, for one thing, and I believe Lasco's lox is highly regarded, so maybe the herring piggybacks on the lox (so to speak).

                        Hmm, when I worked in New York 45 years ago my favorite sandwich at Midtown delis was a "THO" (tomato, herring and onion). Does anybody make these any more?

                        1. re: Gary Soup

                          It isn't bad. It is certainly A LOT better than the dreadful Vita. However, Acme is the best to me, let's see what others think.

                          Saul's in Berkeley for its many faults does one excellent thing ... herring in sour cream ... it is exquisite. The herring in wine sauce is pretty awful though.

                          I'm kind of with Nicky. The herring in the Eastern European stores kind of scare me. I'm kind of squeamish about pickled / smoked fish. Herring was the one thing I never liked made at home, but I can scarf down jars of store bought herring like Acme or Lasco.

                          An aside, while it doesn't hurt to ask, since HOB is using Boars Head cold cuts and a lot of national brands ... to the point of proudly putting the links on their site, I am thinking tongue may not be something that ever shows up on the menu.

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            You could go to HOB, get some of their excellent whitefish salad, a corn rye, and go home and make your own superior but eccentric THO with that and an heirloom tomato (the last that are still at the Civic Center farmer's market perhaps) and some thin sliced red onion.