Monday, September 28, 2009

Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen: Philadelphia

I felt like a lilliputian in a land of giants at the new location of the Famous Fourth Street Deli. Can someone tell me why portions are so humongous at Jewish deli's?

I suppose I'm not complaining when the cookies are a good 8 inches across and the cakes massive beasts of nature, the scale of which is difficult to see from these pictures...


But I mention the portions up front as the price of the reuben at $12 might be a bit of a sticker shock. But they, like the cookies, are overflowing.

And by that I mean, my gf and I ordered 1 reuben, ate until we were both full and still had a bit leftover.

We got half pastrami and half corned beef and overall, the meat was a lot less fatty and juicy than that at Hershel's in RTM. It was also less flavored - perhaps a touch of salt and pepper. It was actually a bit difficult remembering the flavor of the thing a day later. But it's like appliances of unobserved quality - I enjoyed it while I was eating it (especially figuring out how to actually eat the thing) and especially appreciated afterwards. I had none of the post-consumption ill-feeling side-effects of "oof, let me just lie on the floor with my pot belly sticking up" from overly fatty Russian dressing or of heavy oily meat, which I have sometimes come across with Hershel's reuben experiences.

Black & White Cookie

And how could I resist the gigantic cookies? I've already tried and really enjoyed their chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, so decided to go with my first black and white cookie ever. It was abso-bloody-fantastic-delicious.

I mentioned before that it was gigantic, probably running about 7-8 inches across. (Stay with me now, this isn't a spam email. I'm talking about cookies here.)

And it was also quite thick, almost 1 inch in the center, making for a difference in textures of the edges, which were more crunchy, and of the center, which was more like a moist, light cake.

The cookie itself wasn't that sweet; however, the toppings, essentially cake white and chocolate cake frosting were. The sweet frosting attracted most of the attention, because they were so sweet, but were counterbalanced by the not-so-sweet cookie. Strangely, despite how sweet the frosting was, even after eating half of the cookie, I didn't get a sugar high. What amazing alien technology is at play here?

Famous Chicken Soup

We also got their famous chicken soup on a different occasion and rather enjoyed that as well. They don't hold back on the ingredients in this, it coming with a large matzo ball and plentiful servings of kreplach, noodles, rice,, chunks of chicken, and carrot pieces. The sheer amount of ingredients and the varying flavors and textures, not only make for a comforting meal, but also distinguish it from your same old same old chicken soup.

Strangely, the only possibly complaint I might have would be that I might have wanted some more of the actual broth. I should note that we got this as take-out, so this may or may not be applicable for sit-down meals. And I'm confused as to whether I should even complain about this, since restaurants that skimp tend to have the exact opposite problem.

Apricot Hamantash - I liked this, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the apricot filling, which just tasted like regular ol apricot jam.

Linzer Tart - Raspberry (I think? Having hard time remembering.) - Scrumptious, but dangerous.  I apparently sometimes inhale when biting into things, because this confectionery sugar kept on causing me all kinds of coughing fits.  But surprisingly given the amount of sugar, not overly sweet.  Yum. Yum. Yum

In any case, the Famous Fourth Street has been around since 1923 and all of the locals are probably rolling their eyes at me for yet another obvious place to talk about. But for visitors or for new Philadelphia residents, who have been burned by restaurants that have just relied on their storied history alone, Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen is a joy to patronize.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
38 S. 19th St. Philadelphia PA (19th & Ranstead, Map)

700 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA‎ (Map)
(215) 922-3274‎

Famous 4th Street Cookies
Reading Terminal Market 1136 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA‎
(215) 625-9870
($cookies, $Philadelphia, $Sandwiches, $Recommended)

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