Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Rueben's Deli
Murray Hill, NY
Review by SuSu

I am a bit confused while writing this review, since this restaurant seems to have been "closed for renovations" for over a year now. True, it was grimy and filthy, and it would not have surprised me if the health department turned the screws on them. But no one else has moved in, so presumably, the restaurant is still paying it's rent?

When it was open, the booths were in bad shape (careful how/where you sit!), everything was kind of sticky, and going to the bathroom was like walking through a television or movie diner set -- surreal, in that it looks like a diner, but no one is in the back room, and it all looks cracked and broken. It was a caricature of what you'd imagine an old New York diner to be.

But they had a great menu of breakfasts and sandwiches, the latter named for local celebrities. Like the Billy Joel, or the Julius Erving, or the Bruce Springsteen, or the Jerry Seinfeld. Our favorite breakfast was the original "stuffed" French toast -- the Montecristo, not named for anyone from the New York metropolitan area. Bread is made into French toast, then used to sandwich ham and cheese slices, the whole dipped into egg batter and grilled. It's served for some reason with pancake syrup, but we normally eschew that. For lunch, I forget which celebrity's name was on this sandwich, but it had tongue and pastrami on it. I also liked the high-cholesterol egg salad with chopped liver on untoasted white! And was it the Mick Jagger or the Rolling Stone? It was a big club sandwich with turkey, ham, lettuce, tomato, etc. three layers deep, jabbed with a long frilly toothpick, and cut into triangular quarters.

Though the Reuben sandwich has cloudy origins (New Yorkers maintain it was invented by a counterman named Arthur Reuben; people from Oklahoma claim a Jewish deli man invented it there, and a sneaky waitress stole the recipe and submitted it to a national sandwich competition), it clearly is firmly esconced here. Corned beef is sliced and steamed till the fat is drippy, then piled onto rye bread, topped with sauerkraut and swiss cheese, broiled to melt the cheese, then served with a sour dill pickle and Russian dressing. Reuben's served it open faced, with a knife and fork, though it didn't exclude slapping the halves together and noshing two-fisted. It was good!

So even though it was dirty and grimy, I miss it, and hope it opens again soon.

This turned out to be the original "Memory Lane" review, in that it was already merely a memory by the time it was reviewed. After being closed and empty for so many months, a very trendy sandwichy deli show was built in its place, using none of the original fixtures or windows of Reuben's; and who could blame them?? Someday I'll review the new, flash place, but I'm too farklempt right now ... excuse me while I say Kaddish for Reuben's, so that their souls can have peace ...

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