Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Food Field Trip NYC: Carnegie Deli

Carnegie Deli is not exactly an unknown food find. You can usually see the lines of hungry tourists well before you see the inside of one of the most famous Jewish delis in the country. But this place is actually worth the hype and can be manageable if you know the tricks.

The most important part of enjoying this landmark eatery is timing. A later lunch (after 2, or perhaps even a tad later on the weekends due to the Broadway matinees nearby) likely means nonexistent lines. Once you get in, be ready for a brash, no-frills experience from start to finish: you are quickly ushered (border-line shoved) to your cramped table, shoulder to shoulder with your neighbor. Your server will arrive shortly thereafter and provide you with no-nonsense (even proudly rude) service. But then the free pickles arrive; by far one of my favorite parts of eating here. These multi-varietal crunchers provide a sweet, salty start to your meal.

Carnegie Deli Pickles
Portions here are infamously huge. So sharing makes sense. But there is a $3 additional fee to share. To get around that, have one person order dessert and one person order an entrĂ©e. This will be more than enough food and gets you around that pesky sharing fee. Prices here aren’t inexpensive; the larger than life sandwiches hover at $20 -- so the sharing fee seems rather petty.

On a cold winter afternoon the Matzoh ball soup ($7.95) is warm and satisfying. The rich homemade chicken soup broth is poured over two baseball size mounds of matzoh. Comfort in a bowl.

Carnegie Deli Matzoh Ball Soup

And the truffle torte cheesecake ($9.95), the size of a small car, provides the best of all desserts in one. Half rich, decadent NY style cheesecake, half equally rich, dark chocolate mousse, and topped with a chocolate ganache, this is one of those treats that causes you to keep indulging long after you are full.

Carnegie Deli Truffle Torte Cheesecake

And right in line with the refusal to accommodate customer whims, the place is cash only. And before standing up to go pay at the register, your server will no doubt bluntly remind you that you leave your tip at the table. This schtick is tiresome, but the food and eating surrounded by thousands of pictures of celebrities in the heart of Manhattan more than makes up for it.

Carnegie Deli on Urbanspoon


  1. Are you kidding? Just looking that cheesecake is making me shed a tear...of joy.

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