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October 20th, 2010 Jonanna Widner | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Kenny & Zuke's: Restaurant Guide 2010

     
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7 am-8 pm Monday-Thursday, 7 am-9 pm Friday, 8 am-9 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$ Moderate.
[NONKOSHER DELI] It takes a certain chutzpah to produce matzo balls that rival the Death Star in size while featuring the balanced buoyancy of a swimming-pool floatie. But at Kenny and Zuke’s, the Jewish deli ensconced in a downtown triangulation of hipster headquarters—Clyde Common, the Ace Hotel and Stumptown Coffee—the kitchen’s deft hand with the dumpling comes naturally. Such comfort-food skill evokes Manhattan mainstays like Katz’s and Carnegie Deli, and so too does Kenny & Zuke’s zippy, urban feel, right down to the people-watching windows abutting Southwest Stark Street and the leftover Times gracing many a table. Downtown may be the vibe, but K&Z’s Torah-length menu is straight out of your bubbe’s cookbook, with an earthy, savory chopped liver; blintzes stuffed full of pillowy sweet cheese; and, of course, the pastrami. Cured for five days, smoked for 10 hours and piled high between thick layers of rye, this is meat that would practically melt on your tongue if there weren’t so much of it. And while 12 bucks may seem pricey for a Reuben (available in different varieties), it’s a good deal when you consider you’ll be eating the second half tomorrow for lunch. Because with portions this big, trust us, there will be leftovers. JONANNA WIDNER.
Ideal meal: Pastrami burger with Swiss—you might die, but it will be worth it.
Best deal: From 3 to 6 pm Monday-Friday, that pastrami burger is $7.50.
Chef’s choice: The Ken’s Special. “I didn’t name it after myself for nothing! It’s the sandwich I grew up on—our pastrami and rye bread, chopped liver, coleslaw and Russian. It’s a microcosm of a perfectly balanced life and has everything—richness, heft, acidity, sweetness, salt, silk and grit.” (Ken Gordon)

 
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