Friday, June 25, 2010

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 17

After dipping our collective forks into the faddish food trucks and flash-in-the pan havens of organic produce and bacon-laced desserts, the OG Foodie Girls got a hankering to visit someplace in this town that had been around for a while.   A place with history, not halogen lighting.    Where the staff speaks from experience, not from crib notes.    And leather is something you sit on, not wear.     The proper adjectives would be words like "classic", "timeless" and "an LA institution."

In other words, a place a lot like us*. 

This is the moist towelette that you get after your meal at Langer's .  Although we were all seriously stuffed, we were also secretly hoping this was a complementary chocolate bar.

Episode 17 - Kickin' it Old School at Langer's Deli
The impetus behind this particular outing was definitely FG6's husband, who went from a quick hello to a full blown soliloquy on the gastronomical glory of the Langer's pastrami on rye one afternoon.   The man was literally in a state of bliss just talking about the stuff.    His eyes practically rolled back in his head as he described the crusty bread and piles of thick-sliced, peppery smoked meat on top.    The salivating was not my imagination, either.   With that kind of recommendation, the voyage to the edge of MacArthur Park jumped straight to the top of our to do list.     On a bright Tuesday afternoon, eight of us converged on the corner of Alvarado and 7th street for a trip back in time.

Our waitress, Sheila, was amazing.  Drinks all around, menus for everyone, and a tray of warm pastrami samples from the kitchen arrived as if by magic.    There was a brief fit of hysterical giggles as someone pretended to consider ordering the diet plate (cottage cheese and some kind of fruit, I think).  Ha Ha Ha!

A guest FG sighed with pleasure at the long list of available items.  "This is my soul food, girls.   I feel like I've come home."  She immediately placed an order for the cheese blintzes, by which, according to her, one can tell the true quality of a deli instantly.  If that is true, this place is among the finest, because those blintzes were ridiculously delicious.   A platter of them arrived, fat and golden brown on the outside, stuffed full of rich, cheesy goodness.   Customized with sour cream, applesauce, and jelly, every single FG raved when they took a bite.

It was only a little pathetic that each and every other one of us ordered some form of pastrami sandwich.  After all, they have hundreds of things to choose from.   But far be it from us to argue with generations of Angelenos who flock here from miles around for just this meal.    In a gesture to the notion of completeness, we decided to add other dishes and pretend they were sides:  Potato pancakes.  A plate of lox and bagels.  A huge order of fries.    Pickles and sauerkraut appeared somehow, too.  Otherwise, it was the famous #19, with pastrami, Russian dressing and coleslaw on rye.   And my #10, grilled pastrami on rye with swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

Despite being a last-minute addition, the lox plate was a huge hit.  The fish was incredible!  Smooth, cool, flavorful, and totally fresh tasting.  The bagel was perfect, too, warm and just lightly toasted.   The pile of fixings that came with it again made it easy for each of us to make our own little custom appetizer out of it.    Opinions diverged on the potato pancakes, with some finding them yummy and others longing for more crunch and more robust flavor.     The crispy, perfectly cooked fries disappeared in a heartbeat.    The pickle lovers among us were delighted.  And we all loathed the sauerkraut.  As FG11 said, "It tastes like an old shoe.  And not in a good way."

On to the main event.  The hype?  Completely deserved.  This pastrami is to die for.   Unlike any other pastrami I've had, Langer's version is sliced thickly, so you get a real sense for the meat itself.   It's like the revelation of slab bacon compared to what you get at the cafeteria.  The cure is expert, the juiciness just right.  Tender doesn't begin to describe the texture.  As for flavor, it's briny and peppery and deeply satisfying.    Although we were all almost full just from the "side" dishes, those sandwiches were pretty much gone.   Sheila came by once to see if FG6's apparent half sandwich should be wrapped to go, and was informed, "I already ate all the meat out of it.  So, no."

I personally preferred the pure combination of the buttery, crisp grilled bread with the pastrami and cheese, but others loved the melding of the cool, crunchy coleslaw with the warm meat and freshly baked bread in the house special.    That bread, by the way, is outstanding.   So much so that as I excused myself to visit the little girls' room, the rest of the crew moved almost as one for the take-out counter.   Jars of pickles, loaves of hot bread, and pounds of meat to go were wrapped up and followed us home.
FG Final Verdict?
Langers is ON the list!
Pricing Information:  Sandwiches and other dishes $10-18, sides $4-6
FG Value Rating:  Fair Deal

Find out where and when the FG's will strike next!  Visit our website and get the scoop.  You'll also find links to great articles about Langer's and LA's award-winning deli scene.

*Except of course, we're way to young and good looking to be considered any kind of institution.  We would be called "classic, timeless, yet still quite hip and sexy" instead.

 Photographic evidence of the post-lunch devastation of a FG lunch outing

No comments:

Post a Comment