My mom and her companion were in town celebrating my niece's graduation from USC, and we were on our own yesterday. I gave them three choices for brunch -- an adventure into the SGV for dim sum (I was thinking 888 for carts), a good bakery near me (Amandine, where I love their quiche and their french toast, and my favorite croissants), but he was strongly for the old-time Jewish deli, so off to Langer's we went. We three were seated in a booth-ish table in the very back.
We ordered too much but had a good meal. Mom's companion loved the huge menu and started wanting lox or tongue, but I reminded him we were there for the pastrami. Mom isn't a pastrami fan so ordered blintzes. We split a #9 (plain pastrami) and a #19 (pastrami, swiss, cole slaw and russian dressing). He insisted on a side of "a few slices" of tongue; the minimum they would sell was a quarter-pound. I added a cup of matzo ball soup and an order of the crinkle-cut fries well-done.
The matzo ball soup had a clear broth that needed both salt and pepper but the matzo ball was nice and light. A good start. The fries came out and they were a huge order, spilling over the metal serving dish all around the cup below. Mom's blintzes were three powdered-sugar covered blintzes with sour cream on the side. Harold and I split the two pastrami sandwiches.
Sorry, but Harold just didn't emerge as a good judge in this test. He unwrapped his tongue slices and ate his halves of the two pastrami sandwiches by deconstructing them and using fork and knife ate the meat and toppings but without almost any bread. I attacked the sandwiches as they were served. My conclusion: plain pastrami beats #19 easily. If I need a bit of cole slaw to cut into the meat and bread richness, I can add a forkful from the side. The swiss cheese was a layer of richness, but the #19 was just more difficult to eat. My first bites from the corners had too much slaw and cheese and too little pastrami. In the front-middle the cole slaw dominated as well. I ate more of the #19 because I knew it was going to be much more difficult to store and reheat, so I only sampled three or so bites of my half of the #9.
I was amazed how many tables were ordering either the fries or the chili-pastrami-fries that were promoted on a card on our table. It is a big order, and I have half left over, but the thick fries should reheat ok.
I ordered our pastrami "moist, NOT lean." Harold still wondered whether they had mistakenly given us lean. I knew better -- there was enough fat to keep the meat tasty, but it certainly wasn't fatty anywhere near an untrimmed point section would be.