My search for the best corned beef/pastrami in New York continues….
Jewish delis have a certain look about them. Usually they’re bright with old photographs on the wall and lots of nostalgic kitsch. I was surprised when I walked into Loeser’s (one of two remaining delis in the Bronx). Behind the take-out counter was a makeshift dining room with a dark dingy feel to it. It definitely has that stuck-in-time vibe, but something was missing. I have yet to put my finger on it, but it didn’t feel like most Jewish delis.
The woman behind the counter was incredibly sweet, but seemed too busy with a catering order to actually give me a menu. She left shortly thereafter and I ordered my sandwich from a guy behind the counter.
I had read about the legend of this place. It was opened over 50 years ago by a young man named Freddy Loeser who saved up his Bar Mitzvah money to open the business. The charming Freddy supposedly still works the counter mingling with the regulars. Granted I arrived a bit after the lunch hour on a weekday afternoon, but there were no regulars to speak of. And sadly no Freddy.
None of this bothered me too much. It meant I could focus on the food. The Daily News has called this the best pastrami in NYC and fans sing the praises of Loeser’s throughout the internet. I was excited to experience it.
Unfortunately, I was hugely disappointed. It pains me to write a bad review of the meal here – especially since this is an old family business and one of the few remaining Jewish delis in the entire city. Both those things are important to me and I wish Loeser’s another 50 years of success. But I just can’t get behind their corned beef and pastrami.
My sandwich was rather sad. First off, the bottom of the bread was wet for some weird reason (maybe from the pickle juice?). That put me off immediately. Secondly, the meat was cold and greasy.
The corned beef side of the combination sandwich was passable. Sliced very thin, it had a nice saltiness to it but it was hard to get past the layer of grease.
The famed pastrami didn’t fare as well. It had a giant layer of chewy fat in the center and lacked any smoke or spice. It also had a tough, crinkly texture. Really disappointing.
I imagine the strength at Loeser’s is in their take-out sandwiches and catering. It’s not the comfortable, inviting place to sit and have a meal like most Jewish delis. Maybe if Freddy was kibitzing with the customers, the food would have tasted better and I would have wanted to linger. But without that charm, there was no reason to stick around. And I really wish there was. This is the kind of place I like to write good things about.
Does Loeser’s Kosher Deli have the best corned beef/pastrami in NYC? I really wished it did. I wanted to sing its praises, but the meat was cold, the bread was wet, and the ambiance was not welcoming. Sadly, I can only give it a 6 out of 10.
|LOESER’S KOSHER DELI|
|214 West 231st Street (between Broadway and Godwin Terrace),