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Thursday, December 1,2011

A taste of New York

By Clay Fong

"Do you use Fox’s U-Bet syrup in your egg creams?” I asked, in the manner of a character in a spy movie probing the bona fides of a new but unproven contact.

“Is there any other kind?” replied the man behind the counter at Longmont’s Brooklyn Deli.

We nodded sagely at each other, both understanding that the correct answer was proffered.

Friend Carin and I recently visited this spot for a weekend lunch. Despite the Rocky Mountain strip mall location, the Brooklyn Deli brings more than a touch of the Big Apple to Boulder County. The diner-like interior features tiled surfaces, refrigerated deli cases stuffed with everything from éclairs to potato salad, and lively, order-at-the-counter service.

One of this deli’s distinguishing characteristics is a heavy reliance on East Coast suppliers. For example, there’s smoked whitefish and lox from Brooklyn’s Acme Smoked Fish, all-beef hot dogs from Sabrett and the indispensable Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup. The lunch menu spotlights such venerable New York sandwiches as pastrami or corned beef on rye, chopped chicken liver, and assorted heroes and gyros. Breakfast is also available, featuring egg sandwiches, not very New York burritos and omelets. Dinner specials include sandwiches, burgers, ribs and brisket.

Evoking Mike Myers’ Linda Richman, the $2.95 egg cream, true to form, contained neither egg nor cream. Discuss. The classic egg cream consists of nothing more than the above-mentioned U-Bet syrup, fizzy water and milk. While the ingredient list is short, the tricky part of making this drink is getting things in the right proportions. Too much seltzer, and the beverage becomes too thin, and a surplus of syrup can make it unpalatably sweet. Here, the ingredients were impeccably balanced, with enough chocolate and milk to give it sufficient richness without going overboard, and the water added just the right measure of refreshing sparkle.

A $3.95 cup of chicken matzo ball soup featured a clear, clean-tasting broth that seemed to possess near-therapeutic qualities. Carin had to make some adjustment to this soup, as the versions she had growing up lacked this interpretation’s payload of vegetables. Nevertheless, this tonic-like starter could just as well have been prepared by a relative from an old family recipe, and the matzo balls were pleasingly light.

Carin particularly enjoyed her $7.95 Reuben with salty but satisfying corned beef. While the meat wasn’t stacked jaw-breakingly high, there was enough to give this sandwich a hearty feel, and the salt balanced out the tang of sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Grilled New York rye added crunch, and helped tie together the myriad flavors and textures. Carin considered the grilled bread the finishing touch on this sandwich.

My $8.95 lox bagel came with plenty of velvety and not too briny salmon from Brooklyn as well as cream cheese, correctly garnished with piquant capers and onion. The owner explained that while H&H bagels are available here in some flavors, most now come from Long Island-based A&S. My A&S plain bagel wasn’t overly dense, while retaining a subtly chewy feel.

The homesick New Yorker, connoisseur of East Coast fare and curious deli novice would be hard-pressed to do better than visiting the Brooklyn Deli.

Whether one desires a black and white cookie or an egg cream, this Big Apple outpost has the right answers.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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