Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Sunday's Eating in New York

Our guidebook informed us that New York brunch was the thing to do on Saturday or Sunday. Therefore we decided that we would stop off somewhere on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to enjoy a brunch. Our hotel was on West 57th and we headed over to 5th Avenue where it runs along the east side of Central Park. Walking under in the green soft light under the shady trees in the warm morning air was fantastic, but we weren't finding anywhere to eat, so we went eastwards to Madison. After several blocks and no food, we switched to Park and eventually Lexington. At this stage we were wondering if there was anywhere decent offering food on this Sunday morning.

We were passing a deli when we noticed an elderly gentleman being helped out of a car by his family. They were chatting amongst themselves about the fact that it was Father's day and that Grandad wanted to go to this particular deli for lunch. We interpreted this as a good sign and followed the family in the door of the Pastrami Queen deli (located at 1125 Lexington Avenue).

The deli is small inside but the counter is laden with kosher foods and breads. We took a table and ordered two of the signature sandwiches made with warm pastrami. While waiting, we were given a small sidedish of fresh coleslaw and pickles. The sandwiches turned to consist of about two solid inches of warm mouth-watering melting pastrami, simply served between two slices of bread. The flavouring of the meat meant that no further seasoning was necessary and we tucked in with gusto (after all, walking the streets of NY in the sunshine gives you quite an appetite). The sandwich reminded me very much of the hot salt beef sandwiches available in Selfridge's Food Hall in London.

Due to the sheer volume of meat in the sandwich, I managed to make eat about two-thirds and I sincerely regretted not having the capacity to finish it. From watching the amount of take-out being prepared and the other guests, it would seem that the deli has quite the following and it's clear to see why. We had been searching for a quintessential New York meal and I think that we got it in the Pastrami Queen.

After our fine sandwiches, we did make it to the Met, though to be honest, we could have benefitted from a snooze after that meal.

Later that night, we went for a meal at Quality Meats on West 58th, where I enjoyed the best steak I've tasted to date. I opted for the aged rib-eye steak, cooked rare, which was served on the bone. It had been rubbed with salt prior to cooking which gave the outside a great texture as well as adding a wonderful flavour. Inside the meat was tender and buttery. This steak set the standard for all future steaks and I expect that it will be a while before I eat anything that surpasses it. By the way, just in case anyone is wondering, the rest of the meal at Quality Meats was also excellent. We selected this restaurant based on the fact that it was close to our hotel. Sometimes when you pick blindly, you get very lucky!

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