Remember the two Lincoln Dels, the suburbs’ most glorious Jewish delis? They closed in 2000, not for lack of customers but to cash in on some achingly valuable land. Why do I bring up the Dels? Because I have now waited in line with seemingly every single one of their old customers at the new Mort’s Deli in Golden Valley. Seriously, if you want to eat at Mort’s, bring a book, preferably something about New York and comically fatalistic, like Woody Allen’s Without Feathers. Because: Oy.
The corned beef and pastrami? Impeccable. Sourced directly from one of New York City’s few remaining classic delis, the Carnegie, each sandwich arrives filled with perfectly steamed, perfectly fat meat (not lean, there’s no point to lean corned beef: that would be like getting a lean cream puff; either get it or skip it). It’s perfectly stacked a mile high on perfectly moist and chewy rye bread. Mort’s also offers the most ideal possible starter: A complimentary plate of the same pickles the Carnegie Deli serves in New York. Add one of the Carnegie’s tender, pastry-wrapped, subtly oniony knishes and you’ve attained Jewish deli heaven, which is why Mort’s is currently going through 1,100 pounds of corned beef a day. No, that’s not a typo. “Semis are coming in twice a day,” says manager Corey Bloom. “We’re scrambling to keep up. If we open another location, we’ll need a bigger kitchen.”
Another location, already? Yes, it’s that good. Well, not all of it is. The potato pancakes tasted like mere hash browns and crumbled on the fork. The kasha varnishkes were overcooked, and the kreplach forgettable. If you don’t know what those dishes are, don’t worry about it. I do know—and I didn’t care. At all. I didn’t even mind that the service was distracted and forgetful. It was kind of nice, actually. It reminded me of New York. Want to be reminded of New York and the dear departed Lincoln Dels, too? Bring a book, and order the pastrami.