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Shorty Goldstein's FiDi Jewish Deli,SF opened 3/5/13 - any reports?

Read on EaterSF there's a new Jewish Deli called Shorty Goldstein's. Menu is linked to their report. Any hounds been yet?


Shorty Goldstein
128 Sutter St, SF
Weekdays 8am-4pm, lunch starts 10:30am

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    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Not a report on the food, only that at 1:15 Tuesday the line was long and they had run out of corned beef.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Yes, that is true. And it answers the question, " Any hounds been yet?"

    2. Walked by at 11:50, and there were probably 20 people in line.

      1. This place is right across the street from my office, but what a mob scene. I do not like to stand in line for lunch and when possible prefer my reubens with a beer so did not attempt it. Today it was easy 20+ people in line at 12:30 (when I walked by two guys entered the queue and I overheard one of them say "this is so cool") and maybe 6-7 at 1:30 when I returned to the office after finding me a reuben and beer at Oz. It wasn't bad, and they have Magic Hat #9 on tap. Pretty mellow in there, too. What can I say--not a fan of crowds.

        On my way back to the office I took a peek in the door and "86" was up next to the corned beef offerings again. When it becomes less cool (cools off?) I will give it a try. How much better can it be than Sentinel, though?

        1. Made it today, stopped in at about 11:30 with no line. Ordered a corned beef on rye to go and then could not resist a jar of dills ($8, ouch) when I saw the assortment lined up behind the counter.

          The rye is very, very good. Slices are Wonder Bread loaf-sized, which seemed on the small side. Meat also decent in thick-slice chunks with fat nubbins on the end, but nothing off-the-charts in my book. Good texture, flaky without falling apart. Mustard the only topping. $10 seems a bit steep for a pretty basic sandwich like this to cheapskate me, but I know how rents are around here.

          My sandwich came with two dill spears so I did not have to tap into the mason jar to report that they are pretty decent. Obviously fresh with a good crunch and tang. Very clean, simple, which is kinda the vibe I get from the whole place.

          Order came out quick; 10 people in line as I left. There's been a big line every day starting at around 11:45.

          All told, however, I think I'm still a Sentinel guy. I just love those sandwiches--especially the corned beef--and I like them sloppy with lots of toppings how they do it. Their pickles are also pretty good!

          I am sure I'll return to Shorty as well--I do want to try the pastrami sometime and the location is ideal.

          5 Replies
          1. re: lakemerritter

            Thanks for the report. Do they have other topping besides mustard available?

            1. re: Dave MP

              Not sure about this as I did not ask--my policy for something new is to order it as served by default. So I just asked for the corned beef sandwich. Before getting to the the actual ordering of the sandwich I had wasted some of my counter time on pickle questions and discourse,* so didn't want to hold up the growing line.

              *They have only dill varieties lined up, many different items other than cucumbers (I saw cauliflower, carrots, and a combo of sorts), and nothing on the spicy side of things. I have broken down and gotten into my mason jar--they are growing on me. But $8 still seems very steep.

              1. re: Dave MP

                OK, so seeing as I needed another break and it was empty in there I went back to inhale some sweet meat/pickle fumes and quiz a poor cashier.

                The mustard is indeed the only topping they offer.

                The rye is from Cinderella Bakery.

                Also pickled: asparagus, garlic, and onions.

              2. re: lakemerritter

                Wow, this sounds great for 10 bucks.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Many agree; it is consistently mobbed at lunchtime and the corned beef is always sold out by 1 or so. I am just cheap and the portion seemed smallish when compared to similar others. I am going to need Lunch II in the midafternoon.

              3. A few of us shared lunch from Shorty Goldstein's today. I had half of a pastrami sandwich, half of a tongue sandwich (a Thursday special), and a handful of pickles.

                The pastrami is exclusively from the brisket flat, and while there's a tiny bit of the fat cap left on, it's quite dry. I found it underwhelming, at best. The tender, rich tongue made the tongue sandwich a relative success, especially with the thinly sliced pickled onions on the sandwich. The texture of the bread is great - airy and slightly elastic, but it's very light on rye flavor; it's just too weak to stand up in a pastrami sandwich.

                The pickles are crunchy, and quite sharp - really a strong showing here. I particularly liked the carrot, which retained quite a lot of carrot flavor on the inside while the outer layers were still tangy.

                Portions are skimpy for the price. They're clearly using high quality product here, so I can understand the pricing. That being said, independent of the value, the final product is just not particularly tasty. I appreciate that they're trying to fill a void in this neighborhood, but I'm likely not returning. My cravings can wait for something more satisfying.

                3 Replies
                1. re: drinkmoretang

                  We went again yesterday (so much for not returning!). They've really amped up the portion size. The bread is obviously still the same size, but I'd guess that there's 50% more meat in the sandwiches than in last week's visit. My sandiwch had six slices of tongue, and similarly, they stacked the pastrami much higher than they did last week. It doesn't feel stingy anymore. Actually, the change brings about another concern: the meat/bread ratio is a bit skewed. The bread, mild to begin with, is pretty much completely overwhelmed at this point. I'd almost prefer that they cut down on the meat a little, and maybe include a knish or a scoop of potato salad with sandwich orders to fill people up.

                  I liked yesterday's pastrami quite a bit more than the previous week's. With the larger meat/bread ratio, it's now a bit too salty for my taste - certainly saltier than Katz's or Langer's product. That said, it was also much more peppery than last week's offering (I liked this), and while it's still lean, a bit of collagen remained and the pastrami wasn't entirely dry.

                  The tongue is still a winner, and it's my favorite sandwich so far. Chopped liver is underseasoned to my taste, but the accompanying pickled green onions really save it - they bring out some sweetness in the liver, and it makes for a much more interesting mouthful. Potato salad was good; latkes were lukewarm by the time i got to them, so I couldn't really judge them, but I enjoyed the creme fraiche and apples that came with them. I can't recommend the knishes highly enough. Doughy crust on the outside surrounds piping hot, smooth, potato mash packed with potato flavor on the inside. I've never had an elevated, fancy knish like this.

                  Cinnamon overwhelmed the cheese blintz, but I really liked the marmalade they put on top - clearly housemade, tasting strongly of orange peel without being overwhelmingly sweet.

                  A friend enjoyed his turkey sandwich, but I never got to try it - he mentioned that it was quite smoky.

                  Cheesecake was too sweet for my taste - I think there's ricotta in there along with cream cheese, but I'm not positive. It's not totally smooth, and there's some cheesy tang to the cake. It's hard to tell with the sweetness overwhelming a lot of that flavor. I preferred the chocolate ruglachs: flaky pastry and not particularly sweet.

                  Due to the high prices (we went a bit overboard with the sides and spent upwards of $20 per person), I still don't think this will be a regular stop for us, but I had a much better impression after this visit.

                  1. re: drinkmoretang

                    A knish as a side in place of too much meat? I've never seen that before. I'd guess the typical deli fanatic would prefer more meat over just about any side item.

                    I can tell you from having witnessed it first hand, when these delis open, they're contending with a lot of know it all types, who are pretty aggressive about giving their two cents over how things should, or shouldn't be done. They're essentially tasked with replicating a fantasy version of deli.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      I am definitely guilty of being a know-it-all type here! I think they key differentiating factor between a place like this and my favorites is that the meat is way too salty to be piled on like that, which is why I questioned it a bit. As I noted above, I'm largely happy that they aren't so stingy anymore.

                      I just mean that - for $15, you're not leaving most delis hungry, and many board favorites (and mine!) obviously pile the meat on high. Before the portion increase here, you were almost certainly going to leave here hungry, just because the bread slices are smaller. I think they listened to some of the early value complaints by being more generous, which is great; it's just that their salt levels were off.

                      I was only mentioning the potato salad side as a potentially cheap way for them to fill people up, but I can see how that's a pretentious suggestion!

                2. Can anyone compare the corned beef and/or pastrami sandwiches at SG's to those at Tommy's Joynt? Last time I was at TJ, the $8 pastrami sandwich was pretty darn good.

                  1. I made it over there yesterday. At about 11:30 there was a short line out the door.

                    Sadly, the pastrami, as reported by drinkmoretang, is indeed quite dry. As result, I found it rather flavorless and felt the mustard and rye were the only things saving the sandwich from being completely tasteless. I might go back and see if the corned beef is better.

                    I also ordered the chicken soup, but didn't have it until today. It's pretty much a large portion of clear broth--no noodles---with a few slices of celery and carrot, some bits of shredded chicken and some dill floating around. Mine had two matzo balls; not sure if two is the standard number. Microwave the next day, the broth is rich and flavorful, but the matzo balls are hard in the middle. I'm assuming that would not have been the case if I'd eaten them yesterday fresh. Because it's mostly broth, the soup isn't very filling and would definitely not make a completely lunch alone.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PegS

                      I'm not sure about the matzo balls. My wife's floaters stay soft for days. "In one corner are the proponents of "floaters," who employ everything from stiffly beaten egg whites to club soda in order to lift their batter to heavenly heights. In the other corner are the "sinker" folks, dismissive of an "insipid" fluffy texture—they prefer a more meaty, substantial matzoh ball." I think you got sinkers.

                    2. Now there are 2. Two pastrami offerings in the area that pass a New Yorker's basic this-is-real-pastrami test. I survived graduate school on the Carnegie Deli's pastrami, usually after 2 AM.

                      Before Wise Sons appeared there were only thinly sliced, Arby's influenced (I am being unkind), options that bore little resemblance.

                      I asked for a fatty portion (same as at Memphis Minnie for the brisket) and what I got was just acceptably moist with a fine peppered smoke flavor. I won't get into a which is better comparison with Wise, since that is hard to do unless they are tasted at the same time. The smoked fish on a bialy at Wise seems to usually lure me away from their fine pastrami.

                      Wise has more interesting alternate offerings and, maybe, better rye bread, but I wish they would both offer an onion roll option, like the Carnegie's.

                      Pickles were good. Cheesecake looked good, but no strawberries or cherries.Service was friendly. No lines at 1115 AM.

                      And why aren't these places open late at night? After 11PM is pastrami time.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Thomas Nash

                        A kindred spirit!

                        I've yet to try Wise's for that reason.

                      2. I've been here twice in the past week. First visit I had a pastrami sandwich, and today I had the corned beef.

                        The pastrami is quite peppery, especially if you end up with peppery pieces. I thought it was overwhelmingly so, and I couldn't really taste the smokiness of the meat. But this is nitpicking somewhat, since it was overall a good sandwich, and the meat was plenty moist.

                        But due to the lack of pepper, the corned beef today was even better. I think it helped that I ended up with some particularly fatty pieces, which were extra moist. The fat was very tender and delicious, and in the future I'll be requesting fattier pieces when I order a sandwich.

                        Agree with others that this place is pretty simple and clean, with limited choices that make it quick. Both times I've been, line has been relatively short and the food is ready fast.

                        I wish they'd put a Reuben or Rachel on the menu permanently, since it'd probably be fantastic. At the moment, the Rachel is only available on Wednesdays.

                        I like the cole slaw which has lots of celery seed. I thought the side of pickles was OK - I had fennel, broccoli, and asparagus, and I liked the asparagus best. But none were as good as the crisp dill spears that come with the sandwiches.

                        It's not cheap (even the Sentinel is about $2-3 cheaper per sandwich, and I think it's just as good, albeit a different style), but it's definitely worth checking out S. Goldstein's. Now that they've been open a few weeks, seems like they are getting their groove and hopefully will maintain great quality.

                        1. Today I went back to buy some (cucumber) pickles and they did not have any jars left. The nice cashier saw how sad I was a and packed up a plastic to-go container with abundant pickles and the price was right--A+ for customer service and I like the pickles a lot!

                          1. I was walking down Sutter on my way to Galette 88 and smelled the pastrami, so went in. It was just before the lunch rush (a little after 11:30) so they took my order and served me almost immediately.

                            The pastrami ($12) had great flavor, smoky, beefy, not particularly peppery. Forgot to ask for fatty. There was a layer of fat on one side and the rest was lean, next time I'll rearrange the slices to mix up the two as the lean part was a bit dry. Half was plenty for me at lunch.

                            I really liked the coleslaw, big portion for $3.

                            By the time I left it was full. Looking forward to going back.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I forgot to mention I did not like the pickles that came with the sandwich. Are they house-made? Seemed no better than commercial to me.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                You can't do much with them the way they're sliced.

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  I could easily rotate the slices so that the fat wasn't all on the same side.

                                  Next time maybe I'll get one to go and remake the sandwich with some good rye from Esther's.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I meant that the pickle was sliced oddly.

                                    The fat on the corned beef was tender, and marbled enough, that it was easy to eat, at least. I don't think there's currently any reason to order these sandwiches "extra fatty".

                                    Just about any other rye would be an improvement.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      I had no problem with the way the pickle was sliced, it was just quartered. The flavor and texture just weren't that great. I could do better at the supermarket.

                                      As I think the photo shows, the pastrami didn't seem marbled at all, the fat was all along one edge.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        That's typical of pastrami though. Ordering fatty or juicy is a ritual for people who like ordering an uneven, difficult to eat mess. The idea is the fat will melt in your mouth and be the source of all the flavor, but it's not supposed to look like pork belly, and they're supposed to trim some of that off.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          I never found fatty pastrami difficult to eat back in the day at Carnegie Deli.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Carnegie machine slices the pastrami.

                                            It was also likely trimmed properly.

                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              25-30 years ago, navel was fatty enough that Carnegie and its competitors could trim off the outer fat.

                                              If Shorty Goldstein had done that, my sandwich would have been unacceptably dry, as was the case in some of the reports above.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Plenty of fat, what's changed is the lack of meat on these cuts.
                                                They're using that layer of fat to make up for it. That's not what people used to mean by fatty.

                                                Same problem with a lot of BBQ places. Not sure why these cuts are getting thinner and thinner, but in any case, trimming off some fat is just part of the Pastrami making ritual if it's done properly.

                            2. Corned beef here is pretty darn good.

                              The potato salad was covered in something relish tasting. I don't know why they would take such a universal side and cover it in a garnish flavor that's so polarizing.

                              I also wish they used better bread.

                              1. Well, I'm a huge fan of the matzoh ball soup--the clear broth with a hint of dill is fabulous, I love the perfectly al dente celery and carrots sliced beautifully, And the matzoh balls have a hint of rye flavor. I think it's impeccable and I love it.

                                I have also tried a few of their specials--had a nice market vegetable dish with eggplant, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and fresh ricotta cheese (all cooked together) that was lovely and a grilled cheese and eggplant sandwich where the cheese and eggplant melded together perfectly on toasted sourdough. Both lovely dishes.

                                I got a pastrami sandwich for my husband and he wasn't very impressed--too dry, and with only mustard on the bread it was boring and the pastrami wasn't good enough to make up for it being so plain.

                                However, I'm enough of a fan of the soup to keep going back and braving the lines. Gonna try a salad today, too....

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: amenaneri

                                  The bare bones plain pastrami sandwich is classically how it's served. There are people who find the idea of lettuce on a pastrami sandwich horrifying. So yeah you do just get pastrami on bread, and it better be special pastrami in that case.

                                  Best to order a Reuben or at least get Russian Dressing if you need something more jazzy.