What does it take to start a full on food freak out?
I’ve been doing this Sarasota restaurant/food thing for a while now. Almost fourteen year non-stop to be exact. So, I have a bit of perspective on this. I’m by no means an expert. But, I fancy myself a damn good observer.
Here’s the “usual” life cycle of these kinds of things.
1 – Rumor stage. Someone you know says, “hey, I heard a (insert your favorite cuisine style here) restaurant is opening soon. Ah, the first spark…
2 – Drive-by stage. You drive by, see a sign in the window, then call your friend and say, “guess what, I saw this sign…”.
3 – Press teaser stage – You (or your friend) see a small 1-2 sentence item in the Herald-Trib Wednesday food section or Sarasota magazine. It says just enough to keep tongues wagging. And, I mean just enough.
4 – Unbridled anticipation stage – EVERYBODY (and I mean everyone) you know is talking about this. This stage now includes not only you and your friend, but, the thousands of others connected on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The social networking part of stage four is relatively new. It helps stoke the madness in ways that were once exclusively reserved for bank runs and Beatles concerts.
5 – Soft opening/friends and family stage – You’ll have to know someone to participate in this select stage of frenzy building. If you’re not on the inside it only makes the situation that much worse. You want it, other people have access to it, but you can’t quite sink your teeth into it. Not yet anyway.
6 – Grand opening stage – This is where the whole things comes completely unglued. Lines, wait times, should I go now or wait a week (or 4)? We’ve all been a participant in stage 6. It’s nerve racking at best and debilitating at worst. You can’t think of anything else until you’ve had your very own taste. There’s no set time limit for this stage. The mania in some cases continues for weeks or even months.
7 – The wind down stage – Things slowly return to normal. New places open, other frenzy’s start. You can actually get a table in some kind of reasonable time. It’s at this stage that the “regulars” start picking out their favorites seats in the restaurant.
Like I said, that’s the “usual” life cycle of these kinds of things.
There’s a new place on Main Street that may actually defy the laws of frenzy gravity. It’s way to early to tell. But, Sol Meyer’s N.Y. Delicatessen is rolling and it doesn’t appear like this train is stopping any time soon.
The thing that sets this food fever apart from others is scarcity. There is no other place in town to get what Sol is cranking out of his kitchen. No place. This isn’t a typical Sarasota deli throwing together sandwiches made from Boars Head deli meat (This is not a swipe at Boars Head, I like and consume their products, I really do). But, there’s a big difference here. This is REAL deli food. Real, made with love deli food.
I’m not from NY. But, I’ve been to all of the landmark deli’s there. I’m from Chicago and we have our deli icons too (see, Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen). So far, this is the closest we can get to that kind of deli food without getting on a plane and being subjected to a TSA pat down.
Let’s look at some examples shall we,
Each table gets a dish of coleslaw and half sour pickles. That’s a very deli way to start.
Things pick up speed with some homemade chopped liver and whitefish salad. Super fresh rye, tomato and onion complete the platter.
Matzo ball soup. Yes, you’ve got to have it. For the kreplach lovers in the crowd, don’t worry, they’ve got that too. In case you’re wondering, the soup was really hot (it’s tough to capture that in a photo). That’s the way I like it!
Yes, for the uninitiated, that’s a knish. This particular variety was beef. They’ve got flavors. Potato, kasha and spinach.
Let’s keep it rolling. A classic deli favorite, corned beef on rye. Your choice of seeded or unseeded. I like that option. And, no, your eyes do not deceive you. That’s a giant, homemade potato latke hiding in the back, resting on the potato salad. Their pastrami is supposed to be off the charts great. That will have to wait for next time.
That (above) my deli hungry friends, is the soon to be famous, “King Sol”. My friend Judi appropriately calls it “Jewish Nachos”. It is a monster of a dish. Layered rye, latkes, brisket and Swiss cheese all topped with a pretty decadent beef gravy. Oh boy! It’s really almost too big for one average size person to take down. But, it would be fantastic in the middle of a table for four. Each person fully equipped with their own utensils of choice (you’ll need a knife for sure).
THE END, DONE! This is the part where you kind of (but, not really) wished you would have had a wee bit a self control. You’ll laugh at the fact that you had to insist on a DIET Dr. Brown’s to accompany this food blowout. Like that’s going to ease your conscience. Ha!
I don’t really write traditional food review. I usually leave that to others in our Sarasota food community who do it better than me. But, I will say this. Sol Meyer’s N.Y. Delicatessen captures the very essence of what a deli should be about. Super traditional look, neighborhood feel. Delicious, homemade deli staples. A bustling, vibrant atmosphere. And, a line out the door. It all screams DELI!!
My guess is this is one place that just may have a chance to defy the “usual life cycle” of these kinds of things.
UPDATE: The original Sol Meyer’s NY Delicatessen has since closed after a family dispute. But, have no fear deli lovers. Sol’s NYC Delicatessen has open just down the street next door to the Hollywood 20 movie theater.