I've been twice so far. Chicken soup is good though too salty. Excellent tongue sandwich and pickles. My parents love their kasha varnishkes, which I haven't tried yet. I went at a peak lunch hour the first time and waited around 20 minutes. The second time, I got food for takeout in the mid afternoon and waited maybe 10 minutes.
I was there last Saturday. A table for two was about a five minute wait. We each got the half sandwich and soup. Matzah ball and mushroom barley soups were quite good. The corned beef on rye was excellent. My chopped liver on rye was pretty poor, dense and mealy. I took one bite and left it. The waitstaff acted like they see that all the time and didn't say a word about it. I would go back, but not for the chopped liver. I wish I had tried the hot beef brisket instead. We shared a glass of Isreali Cabernet, Barkan Classic
that was memorable.
I have done take out, mainly because standing on a line with over 20 people is not my idea of a good time. The Matzoh ball soup was variable, once like dishwater, another too salty. Chopped liver was eh, not as good as the old days. For the prices they are charging ($15+ for a quart of soup!) everything should be exceptional. I'll only go when the urge hits, since I live a block away.
I was so thrilled that they were opening. I went four times. Two times we left because the line was so long and uncomfortable and the people I was with refused to wait. Two times I went by myself and got take out. (which still took about a half an hour).
The staff is nice but the set up is really unpleasant to wade through.
The first time I went, the chicken soup (which I'd practically been dreaming about since they closed!) was incredible. Somehow, even better than I remembered.
The second time, not so good.
All the dishes I tried were spotty enough (except the delicious kasha varnishkes), the lines long enough and the location out of the way enough (for me) that I haven't really gone out of my way to dine there. Which in retrospect is shocking, as I was literally counting the days 'til they opened.
In answer to your question on another thread re: places to eat near 33rd & Park, I mentioned that Arthur Schwartz had sent out an e-mail to those on his list (of which I am one) where he "vented" about his awful experience at the new 2nd Ave. Deli. I'm pasted it in here:
I went to the new Second Avenue Deli several weeks ago and had such an unpleasant and very undelicious experience that I have been wanting to share it. However, I decided instead to keep my horror story to myself and a few friends. But some of those friends, some even in the media who had written or spoken well of the place, confessed that they too had horrible experiences. They were saying one thing privately another publicly.
So I’ve decided to go public. I think you all deserve at least one honest voice. This place is getting far too much hype, far too much positive reinforcement for some really bad food, for it’s beyond uncomfortably cramped dining room, and quite disorganized service. There are long lines for tables on the street.
Let me say at the start, however, that the pastrami and corned beef are much improved from the tough and dry meats that were being sold at the old Second Avenue Deli in its last days. That’s the only good thing I have to say. Go for a sandwich only – or take out a sandwich if you want to eat in peace and comfort.
Everything else I have tried, however, is very poor quality, or, I should say, very poorly cooked. The chef is the same, but, as Abe always said, he needs to be watched closely. The new owner, Jeremy Lebewohl, Abe’s nephew, and his father, Jack Lebewohl, who was the guardian of the old deli after Abe was killed, have no clue about the food. I am certain they do not know good from bad. And, as I always say, the most disheartening thing to me is watching people enjoy bad food.
Some proof about the Lebewohls' food cluelessness: I ate at the old deli just weeks before it closed, when Jack was the watchdog, and I can tell you that the food at that point had deteriorated so badly that we (the we includes Sharon Lebewohl, Abe’s daughter, Jack’s niece, who was dining with me) had to send half of what we ordered back to the kitchen. That included the deli’s famous chopped liver. It was unspeakable – dense, bitter, foul.
The new Second Avenue Deli, is, by the way, not on Second Avenue, but in a small storefront on 33rd St. just west of Third Ave.
Is that an excuse for stuffed cabbage with hard, uncooked rice? I sent it back. Jack and Jeremey came by to see what was wrong. Jack was carrying a plate of stuffed cabbage, eating it as he stood, grinning from ear to ear to show me how delicious he thought it was.
‘How is it,” said the young Jeremy, “that in my father’s piece of cabbage the rice is fully cooked and in yours it wasn’t. They were both in the same pan,” Jeremy challenged me.
“Easy, I said, your father’s was on the bottom of the pan, fully covered with liquid. I’ll bet mine was from the top of the pan, where it didn’t have the benefit of being submerged.”
“How do you know that!?” Jeremey said, again challenging me.
“Because I cook,” I answered.
“And the dough on the knishes and on the hot dogs in pastry – in blankets. It’s raw on the sides.”
I was apparently the first person to complain about the disgustingly raw puff pastry. Jeremy was shocked. Jack was shocked.
“Tell your chef not to pack the hot dogs and knishes into the pan jammed next to each other. The pastry on the sides won’t cook.”
“How do you know that!?” Jeremy challenged me again.
Apparently he hadn’t heard me the first time.
“Everyone’s a critic,” said Jeremy, as he walked away, not at all taking me seriously.
Except I am a critic. And I can cook, too.
(I'm only giving the highlights of this story -- there is plenty more to kvetch about, but I'll leave it at that.)
i had a work function that i needed to cater last week, and used the new 2nd ave deli to do so. got a huge platter of sandwiches - turkey, pastrami, roast beef, and corned beef. the sandwiches were piled high with DELICIOUS meat (the corned beef was my personal favorite), and the rye bread was delicious as well. we also got a bowl of cole slaw and a bowl of potato salad, both of which were very delicious as well. the potato salad was a little heavy for my taste but hey, nobody's perfect :-)
the delivery guy was prompt and very helpful in carrying everything and helping me set up. despite being a little on the pricier side, i have nothing negative to say about them!