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Langer's Brunch Sat. 5/17 -- #9 beats #19

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My mom and her companion were in town celebrating my niece's graduation from USC, and we were on our own yesterday. I gave them three choices for brunch -- an adventure into the SGV for dim sum (I was thinking 888 for carts), a good bakery near me (Amandine, where I love their quiche and their french toast, and my favorite croissants), but he was strongly for the old-time Jewish deli, so off to Langer's we went. We three were seated in a booth-ish table in the very back.

We ordered too much but had a good meal. Mom's companion loved the huge menu and started wanting lox or tongue, but I reminded him we were there for the pastrami. Mom isn't a pastrami fan so ordered blintzes. We split a #9 (plain pastrami) and a #19 (pastrami, swiss, cole slaw and russian dressing). He insisted on a side of "a few slices" of tongue; the minimum they would sell was a quarter-pound. I added a cup of matzo ball soup and an order of the crinkle-cut fries well-done.

The matzo ball soup had a clear broth that needed both salt and pepper but the matzo ball was nice and light. A good start. The fries came out and they were a huge order, spilling over the metal serving dish all around the cup below. Mom's blintzes were three powdered-sugar covered blintzes with sour cream on the side. Harold and I split the two pastrami sandwiches.

Sorry, but Harold just didn't emerge as a good judge in this test. He unwrapped his tongue slices and ate his halves of the two pastrami sandwiches by deconstructing them and using fork and knife ate the meat and toppings but without almost any bread. I attacked the sandwiches as they were served. My conclusion: plain pastrami beats #19 easily. If I need a bit of cole slaw to cut into the meat and bread richness, I can add a forkful from the side. The swiss cheese was a layer of richness, but the #19 was just more difficult to eat. My first bites from the corners had too much slaw and cheese and too little pastrami. In the front-middle the cole slaw dominated as well. I ate more of the #19 because I knew it was going to be much more difficult to store and reheat, so I only sampled three or so bites of my half of the #9.

I was amazed how many tables were ordering either the fries or the chili-pastrami-fries that were promoted on a card on our table. It is a big order, and I have half left over, but the thick fries should reheat ok.

I ordered our pastrami "moist, NOT lean." Harold still wondered whether they had mistakenly given us lean. I knew better -- there was enough fat to keep the meat tasty, but it certainly wasn't fatty anywhere near an untrimmed point section would be.

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  1. I find your comment surprising concerning the salt level of the chicken soup. I like Langers' chicken soup, but I find it more than sufficiently salty.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jack Flash

      I am usually pretty easy on the salt. My mom loves salt, and usually adds it. She liked the matzo ball, said her chicken soup was better. I added a bunch of pepper to the broth, and still missed a little salt. I knew I had the pastime bombs coming, so i didn't add any...

      I did add the packet of saltines (funny) to the cup of soup.

      Note that I don't think they salted our well-done fries. With the ketchup, I didn't miss it.

    2. I think Langer's is hugely overrated and that you should go elsewhere.

      3 Replies
          1. Langer's is #66 on todays J. Gold's 101 Best In Los Angeles list.

            3 Replies
              1. re: wienermobile

                Statement from Langer's today on making the list:
                Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant is proud and honored to have been named by the Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold to his annual 101 Best Restaurants for 2014. Jonathan has been a long-time supporter of Langer's and our world-famous hot pastrami, dating back many, many years now. We are grateful for his acknowledgement and honored by the inclusion in such a prestigious list.
                From all of us at Langer's Deli, thank you, Jonathan.

              2. Nice report! I do like the #19, but primarily because I thought it would be gross. I was pleasantly surprised that everything kind of worked.

                But I agree with you that it doesn't work as well as the simple, straight-up pastrami sandwich. You just don't *need* the other stuff.

                11 Replies
                  1. re: jessejames

                    Interesting mix. To each their own. I'm a traditionalist, but one by choice.

                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                      I like to mix it up. Sometimes I put part of a knish or potato pancake inside too. Basically can't go wrong with that pastrami!

                      1. re: jessejames

                        uhm... what number is this on the menu? cuz it's part overwhelming and part genius.

                        do you put the knish inside the #9/#10 or #19?

                        1. re: TonyC

                          I just order the pastrami and swiss on rye with small side of cold kraut and a potato knish. And ask for the white horseradish.

                          And then I open it up and put stuff inside...overwhelming? let's just say no room for dessert.

                          1. re: jessejames

                            revisiting this.. cuz I'm overdue for Langer's. is there a way to order 1 "potato pancake"?

                            latkes inside a pastrami sandwich? that's stil kosher. and it certainly beats having those disgusting fries.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              The fries are only disgusting if they're undercooked, which they were on my last visit with my sister on Saturday. Otherwise they're a great complement to the sandwich.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: TonyC

                                Or just pile some pastrami up on top of some potato pancakes with a little applesauce and sour cream or try something new

                        2. re: cacio e pepe

                          " I'm a traditionalist, but one by choice."

                          So, you haven't been coerced by an armed mob into that position then I take it? ;-D>

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Touché!

                            I meant that it's my choice. If your choice is to put yellow mustard and mayonnaise on the glory that is a Langer's pastrami then go nuts. For me, that's pretty gross, but it's your money. I'm not going to lecture you about diaspora and cultural authenticity, blah blah blah.

                      2. re: cacio e pepe

                        I prefer the #19 on an onion roll instead of the rye. It gives the sandwich an extra kick!

                      3. For some reason I am not in favor of mixing pastrami and cheese because at a place like Langer's it just doesn't seem right.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Tripeler

                          maybe you should hold the bread too?

                          1. re: jessejames

                            Hard to enjoy it as a sandwich that way. Mixing meat and dairy seems to affect the kosherness of it all.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              Your call. I'm not kosher. I prefer a cheeseburger to a burger too.

                              1. re: jessejames

                                I am not Kosher either, but I respect the aesthetic of a pastrami and rye and think it needs to be served Kosher. But, I will never turn down a cheeseburger because burgers were originally not meant to be Kosher. It's a funny quirk, but I am that way some times.

                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  For those of us, like me, who are Fauxsher the aesthetic is all about the taste. My humor may be tasteless, but my taste doesn't follow suit (thank Dog)...

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    There's a big menu and you should enjoy what u like but I'm not wrong or lacking respect for enjoying it my way.

                                2. re: Tripeler

                                  interesting. I assuage my pastrami madness with SALMON, bought laden with pastrami spices; then Swiss, Russian dressing, kraut (or sometimes cole slaw!) and horseradish mustard; all ingredients are necessary whether made with pastrami or salmon, and it must be on rye bread.
                                  Salmon pastrami is umami, and trumps #19.
                                  So throw it at me already!
                                  My question; is cheese on salmon Kosher?
                                  My former in laws are gone and there is no one left to ask.

                                  1. re: VenusCafe

                                    Yes. Kosher just like bagel lox and cream cheese. But id prefer that personally. Happy chowing!

                                    1. re: jessejames

                                      Jessejames is correct. A tuna melt is kosher also. (Langer's Tuna Melt)

                                       
                                      1. re: jessejames

                                        Of course! Duh...Dumkop why didn't I think of that?
                                        Me ken eisen; me ken freisen

                                        1. re: VenusCafe

                                          In kosher tradition where there are laws mandating separate consumption of dairy and meat, chicken, beef and goat/lamb qualify as "meat", but fish is considered neither meat nor dairy. It's halachically the same as an apple.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            I read someplace that those who adhere to these "laws" aren't supposed to eat fish and meat together. How about an apple and meat? Okay if you have a salami sandwich and munch on apple slices at the same time?

                                            I say as long as there is a good, logical reason that still holds water for these "laws" in this day and age...that's all I care about. (g)