Katz's Deli and dessert (times 3)

Friday, December 02, 2011

I have a couple of New York City posts still up my sleeve, including this one. I got together with two friends from college a week before I left, and they asked what kind of restaurant I wanted to go to. I said I really didn't care, but I wanted "the quintessential NYC experience." So we decided on the famous Katz's Deli, where they filmed that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally:

Aw, they cut out the part when the older lady says, "I'll have what she's having."

Believe it or not, this was my very first time at Katz's (205 East Houston Street). I'd always been too intimidated to go alone, and while deli food can be great, it's not something I ever really crave.

Since I wasn't all that hungry, we three girls decided to go with a full pastrami sandwich and a half-corned beef, matzo/h ball soup order. You can't go to this kind of restaurant and not order a matzo/h ball soup!

The soup was a little too salty for my taste, but it was still very heartwarming and brothy and the matzo/h ball was fluffy as it should've been.

The corned beef sandwich was a letdown. It was dry, and possibly too salty as well, but I can't really remember. I would just recommend NOT ordering it. The pastrami sandwich, however, was a delight. It's not the best pastrami sandwich I've ever had ... well, maybe it is. (But the pastrami BURGER at Crown Burgers in Salt Lake City is the best pastrami dish I've ever had, mmm.) 

To top this meal off, we ordered a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda. Dr. Brown's, I think, is a predominantly New York soda brand, and I grew up drinking its cream soda. In the past few years, however, I discovered its Black Cherry soda, which tastes almost revolutionary if you just add a couple twists of lime juice to each glass!

The dishes also came with your typical delicatessen pickles. I prefer the sour type, but delis usually carry the crisper, greener type. We got both kinds and I wasn't impressed.

Katz's, from Il Laboratorio del Gelato
So all in all, not exactly all that it's cracked up to be, but the pastrami sandwich really is pretty good. The atmosphere is kind of what I'd imagine a canteen to be like; it's one L-shaped room. There is a bathroom, but it's literally a telephone booth-sized box in the middle of the smaller end of the "L." It looked like the "chokey" from the outside, the room that poor little Matilda was made to sit inside for hours as punishment in Roald Dahl's novel.

After this, we went for dessert across the street at Il Laboratario del Gelato (95 Orchard Street), which I went to this past summer. Last time I ordered honey lavender gelato and coconut sorbet. The friends I visited with this time were a little more adventurous -- I ordered the Mexican cinnamon while another ordered basil and the last ordered Guinness. Odd mixture, but I liked the basil best. It was really clean and refreshing. The Mexican cinnamon was what you'd think it was (Christmas! In my mouth! And a little spicy.), and the Guinness I didn't care for at all. It had a terribly bitter aftertaste though it started out with dark chocolate or coffee notes and all of that.

... and when I am with certain friends, get-togethers turn into epic eating marathons. After gelato, we went to a speakeasy where we all ordered herb-flavored drinks. And then after that, we spotted the Dessert Truck near Astor Place, where we decided on the chocolate bread pudding. I don't like bread puddings and I'd had this one before, but not with the bacon crème fraîche. I'm definitely not one of those people who thinks pork reigns supreme and that bacon should have its own deity and all of that. It was interesting -- a nice balance of sweet and salty, but that's as much as my appreciation for the whole dish went. It was a little too rich for my taste, overall. Secretly, I wish we'd seen the Wafels & Dinges truck instead ... Belgian waffles -- now that would've been the perfect send-off dessert!

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