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Rant on Reuben Sandwiches [moved from Boston board]

the deli piece in the globe made me see red for a moment, and I don't mean in a good way. To test a jewish deli on a reuben is like testing a fine chinese restaurant on its lasagna. Reubens are the devil's own invention, having nothing to do with any standard jewish deli and imported from heaven knows where into non-kosher jewish delis where they remain a blot on good sense and balance. who adds bad swiss cheese to good corned beef? Adds more fat to a fine fatty meat? yech......As to the article itself, if you don't make your own chopped liver, try the Butcheries or Michael's Deli. As to chicken soup and matzoh balls, the only one I eat other than my own is New England Soup Factory. Why someone who knows nothing about food or delis gets to write about them will remain beyond my understanding. No Reubens!! No Rachels!

Michael's Deli
256 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

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  1. The only fault I find in your comment is that you pay any attention whatsoever to anything written in the Boston Glob (misspelling intentional).

    1. Since there are no good deli's, let's at least enjoy a reuben.

      1. "who adds bad swiss cheese to good corned beef?"

        Stand at any counter that serves top notch pastrami and watch how many people ask for cheese on their pastrami sandwich.

        Is this all that different from folks who like cheese (usually Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese) on a good cut of beef? Personally I enjoy a Rachel over a Rubin. To each their own I say.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Gordough

          forgive me, but jewish delis were all, once upon a time, kosher. no cheese on the meat. none. ever. so, yes, crossover has happened: delis (but never kosher ones) looked to lure people with "fusion" deli. Fine. if you like it, eat it and may you find a good one. But it is insulting to write an article on "jewish" delis and test their excellence on a "reuben." what a joke.

          1. re: teezeetoo

            I get why you're upset, but clearly, that ship has sailed: not all Jewish delis are kosher. Not all people who eat at Jewish delis keep kosher, even if they're Jewish. So, nu?

            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

              nothing wrong with general gau's chicken, chow mein, or egg foo young. would you test for the best chinese restaurants by making these your standards for review? I'm not at all a purist: have no idea what is authentic in most cuisines. I just can't help feeling that the lovely Adelman's at Adelman's deli on 13th avenue in Brooklyn, and my father, would be deeply offended at using a Reuben as a measure of their skill or taste. neither of them would have touched one with a long wooden spoon.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                You are not in Brooklyn any more. In many areas of the U.S., one cannot even get a reuben.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Veg, my boss here in Grants, said the reuben at the 1St Street Cafe was the best he'd ever eaten. He's a native New Mexican. I'm gonna wait until I'm really hard up(or blitzed) before trying one.

                2. re: teezeetoo

                  I'll have some sympathy for you the first time someone pulls a gun on you and forces you to eat a Reuben against your will. Otherwise, live and let eat.

                3. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  you know, that is a great expression. i appreciate your bringing it to my attention again. and i'm gonna use it too!

            2. Ha! Love to see impassioned Chowhounds getting all incensed!

              It would be simpler to just say that Boston remains a giant sucking black hole for high-quality traditional Jewish deli, but you can't get 800 words out of that.


              3 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Real deli is dying. The only hope is a still young artisan deli movement. I'm somewhat surprised that even in the kashrut world there is little artisan deli.

                1. re: lergnom

                  Worth noting that one of the young artisan delis, Kenny & Zuke's in Portland, serves a killer Reuben that I am compelled to order every time I visit. But another one, Caplansky's in my hometown of Toronto, refuses to, with the same passionate argument of the OP.

                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    I don't think the OP has ever had a reuben. His rant is the dilution of kosher.

              2. Russian Dressing? Need I say more?

                2 Replies
                1. re: baldbert

                  You said a mouthful. And a most upleasant one. I loathe the stuff.

                  1. re: baldbert

                    let me see: bad swiss cheese, russian dressing, and fatty meat on generally poor quality rye bread, with some canned sauerkraut: sounds like an ersatz "jewish-style" big mac to me. great corned beef, good mustard, good rye bread, good pickle on the side: sounds like a deli sandwich.

                  2. Reuben's have been popular in jewish NYC delis since around 1920 so it seems like a relevant sandwich choice to me ...
                    ... not that the Globe food section is a legit authority on anything at all.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers

                      "Reuben's have been popular in jewish NYC delis since around 1920." I grew up in Manhattan, and I ate a lot of Deli, and I never HEARD of a Reuben until straying out into the suburban crappy pseudo delis in the late 1980s.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I can see how they'd be hard to find for people that tend to mix food and religion but ...seriously? Just go to Katz's or Carnegie or literally any other deli that will let meat and cheese live together in delicious harmony.

                        1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers

                          I don't think you could have gotten a Reuben at Katz 20 years ago. Today for sure.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            I've only been to Katz once and I'd have never desecrated that gorgeous pastrami with cheese or anything else. Well, some mustard.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'm not kosher but pastrami and chopped liver on seeded rye is my most bestest superlative favorite sandwich. Pickle on the side.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Mustard does not desecrate, it anoints.

                                1. re: BobB

                                  Indeed. When Pope Poupontius IV was annointed in 1419, it was done with a dab of Dijon on the forehead.

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                I remember getting swiss cheese on my tongue sandwiches in the 1980's at Katz' so I would imagine you could have gotten a Reuben.

                                I am not sure what the hubub is, Reuben's are a tasty sandwich especially when griddled with butter. If you are Kosher just don't eat it.

                              3. re: StriperGuy

                                life long NYer. ate reubens since at least the early 70's

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I did some research on Reuben sandwiches a few years ago. In my notes I have that Reubens were first mentioned in print in Theatre Magazine in 1926 and that they were being talked about in the NY media before any place else in the country. My Mom was eating Reuben sandwiches at a place called a deli back in the 1960s in Baton Rouge, LA. The Reuben also won a prize in a national sandwich contest in 1956. Not sure why you never heard of them before the 1980s. They were certainly around.

                                  Here's a link you might find interesting.

                                  1. re: decolady

                                    great research work there. thnx much!

                                    p.s. i vote for the WOMAN in nebraska(hrumphhhh, men always claiming the fame....!)
                                    wouldn't that just be too funny if it were her? and in nebraska???! what did NOT get was the nyc Reuben fellow describing his sandwich that is not what we call a reuben.....?

                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                    I grew up in Bergen County, and had been eating Reubens at one of those "suburban crappy pseudo delis" since the 70's. And I enjoyed them very much.

                                2. Don't be a putz bout the ruben, gimme a pickled herring in sour cream on rye!

                                  1. how about if one adds good swiss cheese to good corned beef?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: thew

                                      So long as both are at room temp or just slightly warmed, you are on to a good thing.

                                      1. re: thew

                                        Actually, I'm all in favor of good Swiss on both corned beef and pastrami; it's the accursed Russian/Thousand Island dressing I cannot abide.

                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                          I like corned beef and pastrami with horseradish mustard and whatever jus they have (beef is fine with me...) for dipping. Nomnom.

                                      2. Man ...this thread really makes me want a reuben. Thanks, teezeetoo!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Good bread, good meat, good cheese, good sauce. Lots of wiggle room here. I've had many great very different renditions.

                                          1. I figured this out when I went to Manhattan Kosher Restaurant in Montvale, and saw that they didn't even have the Reuben on the menu.

                                            Manhattan Kosher Restaurant
                                            26 Chestnut Ridge Rd # B, Montvale, NJ

                                            1. Give me a good reuben over one of those stupid overstuffed just-meat sandwiches any day.

                                              1. Reubens are not exactly diet food, and with apologies perhaps for the phonetic similarity to Peter Paul Rubens who painted large "Rubenesque" women, does anyone know how the reuben got its name?

                                                13 Replies
                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    Hysterical! Whoda thought Nebraska staked a claim! So glad I asked, you brightened my day.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      Nebraska has so little and NY has so much (in the way of food) that I'm pulling for those flyover guys and gals to come out on top!

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        I know NYC fancies itself as the center of all things Jewish, but some do live in other parts of the country.
                                                        My wife's Grandparents made it from Prussia to NYC to Des Moines to Omaha and were all members of that very same temple.
                                                        Clothiers & Butchers. :)

                                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                                          Correction: NYC fancies itself the center of all things. ;)

                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                    I did not know that Pee-Wee Herman was a painter. I like the sandwich!

                                                    1. re: phantomdoc

                                                      Of course he is a painter! Who do you think did the awesome paint job on his bike?

                                                      1. re: MattInNJ

                                                        He should have painted the sandwich on his bike. Could've kept him out of trouble at the theater. He might have had a good time at the deli.

                                                        What is the difference between Russian dressing and Thousand Island?

                                                        1. re: phantomdoc

                                                          Thousand Island, a variant of Russian dressing, was invented in the first decades of the 20th century by Sophia LaLonde. LaLonde substituted mayonnaise for the yogurt used in Russian dressing, and added pickle relish, chives and sometimes chopped, hard-boiled eggs.


                                                          1. re: MattInNJ

                                                            Thanks. My mom always mixed Hellmanns and Heinz and called it Russian.

                                                            I made up my own rationale that there was anti soviet feelings and the islands in between Alaska and Russia might be the thousand islands. I have learned something new today.

                                                            BTW Matt
                                                            Are you near Neptune NJ? One of the finest and fattest Reuben sandwiches of my misspent youth was at Kellys. The large Reuben came on an 8" x 12" oval plate. And you couldn't see the plate.


                                                            1. re: phantomdoc

                                                              You were surprisingly close, just in the wrong part of the world: the Thousand Islands are in the St. Lawrence River between Ontario and New York.

                                                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                I am in Union County, so a bit north of Neptune, but I do goto Kellys a few times every summer. I will be sure to try the reuben down there. Thnx for the rec.!

                                                                1. re: MattInNJ

                                                                  My memories are from the 1970's. I was a soundman in a rock band from Long Island that played many nights in the clubs of Asbury Park. Perfect meal after setting up a few tons of equipment. Please report back. The mini Reuben is the same ingredients, but a lot smaller.

                                                    2. This thread made me laugh. A few weeks ago I took my mom to lunch at a Jewish deli in the Philadelphia area (we are not Jewish--just deli fans). Mom got a reuben and, about 1/2 through it, remarked how unusual it was that a sandwich combining dairy and meat is considered a standard at Jewish delis.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                        There are a LOT of Jews who don't keep kosher.

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Understood--in fact more do not than do (except, of course, on high holy days). It just struck me as funny that shortly after my mom made the observation, this rant appeared.

                                                      2. For those posters who do love reubens and who are lucky enough to live in MA or NH, When Pigs Fly Breads makes an outstanding Russian Sauerkraut Rye, very moist and dark ,with very deep rich flavor. I am completely addicted. They are based in Kittery ME and have stores in Somerville MA and Portsmouth NH. I don't know if they do mailorder.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          They have a store in Coolidge Corner, Brookline also.

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            Yes, When Pigs Fly certainly does mail order. You buy it par-baked and bake it off yourself. Delicious.