National Pastrami Day: Tues Jan. 14
"wienermobile" sounded the alert on the LA board. Tomorrow is National Pastrami.
Not long ago, we had few good choices in the Bay Area. Luckily that has changed and we're in the midst of a pastrami revival.
This is permission to indulge. If there's a spot you've been eyeing to try or maybe revisit a favorite, please report back here for National Pastrami Day.
My lunch for National Pastrami Day 2014 was a first timer's visit to Rhea's Cafe (20th & Bryant, SF) https://twitter.com/rheascafe . In honor of the day, two types of pastrami sandwich combos that are usually available at its sibling, Rhea's Deli, were on the menu.
Nancy Berry's report on luscious grassfed navel cut pastrami had stuck in my consciousness since last March. But alas, the pastrami-maker is on hiatus and navel is no longer available.
Now the sandwiches are made with top round pastrami. I tried to not physically recoil in horror on hearing this and almost turned around to leave. But I figured I was here and a Rhea's sandwich is as much about the garnishes as the meat, so I tried The Freak and split it with my mom. And indeed, while the meat is not a bit player, I'd say that the grilled Rhea's kimchi, melted horseradish chive cheddar, wild arugula, garlic aioli, pickled red onions, and toasted Acme french roll had big parts too. Here's what it looked like in cross-section,
Mostly I liked it. The pastrami was quite tender, not at all stringy, and not too salty nor wet. The bread's just a little too large and hard of crust. But the roll does hold in much of the juices without falling apart. My plate was still stained with orange-hued kimchi run-off. And the crazy flavor combo grew on me. I mean, who else puts spicy kimchi and arugula together?
Mari and I did go to 20th century cafe for lunch yesterday. We got the reuben sandwich, the kale sandwich and the potato knish.
The reuben was quite good. Not too much meat, but nicely toasted bread with some great sauerkraut in it. Mari describes it as juicy and the sauce was a nice balance of tangy and savory that complemented the meat nicely with perfectly toasted buttered bread.
The kale sandwich with goat cheese was quite good and helped balance the meatiness of the reuben. Their knishes are really really good and savory, the kids love them and we use it as a after-school snack periodically.
Total cost for 2 with tax and tip was $26 (no drinks, we had water)