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Oct 8, 2008 06:58 PM

Katz's not only downhill but off the map!

Just came back from dinner at Katz's. Everything except the pastrami and pickles were bad. Brisket dry and tastless. Potato Latke cold and bland. Matzo ball soup dark and tasteless. Cole slaw and Macaroni salad delivered in large buckets from Sally Sherman. The russian dressing was no good. Gave up on the knishes, last year they were dreadful. Has anyone found this to be the case or do I have a zinc deficiency or liver trouble that is altering my sense of taste? Have I outgrown a favorite? Or does the emperor have no clothes?

Tell me I hit an off night. Say it isn't so Joe.

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  1. well, let's see.......the matzo ball soup was mediocre at best when i tried it for the first time in 1985 and the final time in 1997 or so. latkes, pretty much the same. i order macaroni salad in a deli about as often as i order a caesar salad, so i can't speak to that. having had both katz's cole slaw and sally sherman -- via a queens deli -- in the past week, i can say they have as much in common as burger joint and wendy's.

    so i gut feeling is that you were disappointed in katz's traditionally disappointing items. your fault? by no means. but stick to their strengths. after all, mcdonalds' fries are delectable, their side salads not so much.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: david sprague

      I didn't order the macaroni salad or in fact anything but my sandwich, but we were 5 people and i tasted most everything. Also noticed the counter man overcharged an the 5 sandwiches.

    2. Well said, David Sprague. (Was that a rhyme?)

      I don't go to Katz except if I'm in the neighborhood, and then only for the pastrami, which I find to be about on par with that at several other places (Sarge's, 2nd Ave. Deli). I know it's an institution, but I frankly don't really get what all the fuss is about.

      5 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        cimui, how are prices at Sarge's and 2nd Ave? I'm talking about the pastrami sandwich.
        Coming from the Montreal area, I found Katz pastrami sandwich way overpriced. Not so much of a complaint, but rather as a statement - yes, its an institution, yes its famous, and yes, every Japanese tourist wants to eat at Katz, so god bless them, they CAN charge what they want.
        So I'm just curious on prices elsewhere.

        1. re: porker

          Welll... not that much better, actually. Sarge's are around $10 and 2nd Ave's around $14. (Katz's are $15.)

          I agree: they're way overpriced, as a lot of kosher food is.

          1. re: cimui

            Just to note that neither Katz's nor Sarge's is kosher.

        2. re: cimui

          I don't know that I even like the pastrami. I just had my first sandwich and while the meat was thickly-cut and moist, there was barely any flavor besides fat. I'm glad I got to try it (though I wish I had gone closer to payday), but I don't see any need to go back.

          1. re: JungMann

            yeah, it is more understated than some variations i've had. i'm not sure whether that's a stylistic thing or an authenticity / quality thing, though. the more robustly flavored pastramis i've had were homemade (by a friend who is of eastern european and moroccan descent, but grew up in sweden and france, so who knows where she picked up her juniper- and coriander- heavy variation from!), but i could see how some might prefer to brine without the addition of as many spices, to allow the flavor of the meat come through. katz's version is pleasantly smoky even if it's not very strongly spiced.

        3. I totally agree-i only go for the pastrami!!!

          1. What did you eat the Russian dressing on? I hope not the pastrami!!! Seriously, I think the others said it should not go there for things like chicken soup or macaroni salad. Stick to their strengths, which are pretty strong!

            12 Replies
            1. re: erica

              Distressing to read this thread...I'm planning a trip to NYC this weekend including walking tour of Lower East Side...of course we are planning to have lunch as Katz's. What else is good beside the pastrami?

              1. re: rocknroll52

                Get the pastrami---but if you have to try something else, the hot dogs are really good too. Forget the french fries; I always think it's a good idea, but it's not. Pastrami and pickles (especially the green tomatoes) are the way to go.

                1. re: corndog1

                  what about the corned beef reuben or the chopped liver?

                  1. re: rocknroll52

                    I've done the Reuben with pastrami a couple of times. I always feel guilty. It seems sacrilegious ;)

                    Plus they put the meat and cheese in the microwave to melt it.

                    1. re: rocknroll52

                      chopped liver, imo, is excellent. there've been times, sacriligeous as it may sound, when i've crossed katz' threshold not in the mood for pastrami and defaulted to a turkey-chopped liver combo. never a letdown.

                      1. re: david sprague

                        Iiinnteresting. Im definately going to try that next time.

                      2. re: rocknroll52

                        if you want chopped liver do a pastrami sandwich takeout from Katz's then hop over few doors down and get chopped liver at Russ and Daughters-then take a seat on bench outside and enjoy the scenery-people will be very envious at you!

                    2. re: rocknroll52

                      The Knoblewurst is great. And I always get the fries or a knish. I'll be the voice of dissent and admit I actually kind of like them.

                      And second the hot dogs.

                      1. re: CornflakeGirl

                        Truely the only things to get there are Pastrami, Knoblewurst and hot dogs.

                      2. re: rocknroll52

                        stick with the sandwiches. Pastrami, Corned beef, tongue, chopped liver. and the pickles, of course.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          I like the pastrami and chopped liver the most. I didn't quite like the corned beef as I thought it was too dry. The tonuge was ok. They cut it vertically (top to bottom, not tip front to end) and so even with the fatty back side the slices were small. I preferred mine to be sliced crosswise with a wide surface area to enjoy the melting fattiness of the center.

                          You do need to ask for fatty (or extra fatty). Otherwise any meat type will be served as lean slices and sort of dry.
                          The hot dogs are great!

                      3. re: erica

                        Pastrami, Russian, and coleslaw is really really good. In Jersey this style of ordering is similar to a "sloppy joe". Sloppy Joe's are made using a specially cut rye bread, topped with a variety of meats, turky, corned beef, pastrami, coles slaw and russian dressing. It's usually served after a funeral or a party. You can pre-order them in the city, at most kosher, or kosher style delis, but they're for a group.

                      4. everytime i go to katz, i make a conscious decision to choose it over chinatown and i only have corned beef and matzo ball soup...... never regret it everytime.....but i'm in mott and canal the next week......agree, go w/ their strength.....i always ask for a fatty cut.....and then i put a dollar or two on the cup......never fails......been to canegie, artie's and in la langers. labels table and nate-n-als plus a slew of others not worth mentioning...........katz wins for me.