Who would have thought that a nondescript restaurant in a nondescript shopping center would feature food beyond description–food for which you run out of adjectives and synonyms for delicious (let’s see: savory, scrumptious, yummy, tasty, mouth-watering, appetizing, delectable, luscious)? In Siegelman’s, the quintessential Jewish deli, we found some of the very best pastrami (and it’s no surprise that it carries the Vienna Beef label) in America–perfectly marbled to bring out its dramatically captivating (not nearly sufficient to describe it) flavor and in such huge proportions that your mouth is agape (and watering) at first sight.
There’s a Yiddish word that perfectly describes Siegelman’s sandwiches–“farshtopt,” a word which means “stuffed” as in crammed full of meat. An even better word might be “overstuffed” because that’s what you receive with every sandwich order.
The thin-sliced, piled-high pastrami sandwich on fresh baked rye bread includes enough meat (a full 8.5 ounces per jumbo sandwich and 6.5 ounces on the standard offering) to make four pastrami sandwiches in Albuquerque’s chintzy sandwich shops. Jars of gourmet mustard are available for slathering on the pastrami. A perfect prelude to the perfect pastrami sandwich is the complementary soup sweet and sour cabbage soup which tastes even better on a cold autumn day.
If you’re really famished, order the “Hav-A-Catskill” described on the menu as “mountain high pastrami sliced so thin that it will take your breath away. You’ll think you’re in New York when you eat this delicacy.” The difference between this Hav-A specialty and the jumbo is that in addition to soup, you have your choice of either potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw or potato pancake. The latter offering is absolutely wonderful, especially if topped with Siegelman’s applesauce.
Pastrami’s first cousin, corned beef, is also a Siegelman’s specialty. Lean choice of corned beef is freshly sliced and boiled then served on freshly baked rye bread. The hungriest of diners will order the Hav-A-Nagilla, piled high corned beef served with soup and one of the aforementioned sides.
Kim, who is amazingly not a pastrami devotee, always orders something else which gives me an opportunity to wax poetic about something other than pastrami. Siegelman’s salami and corned beef sandwich is also worthy of tribute while the Monte Cristo sandwich is a towering example of just how high meat can be piled onto thin slices of bread. Complementary pickles are provided at each table in such quantities that you could probably fill two pickle jars.
Even though distance prevents us from partaking of Seigelman’s wonderful food more frequently, my in-laws and wonderful wife have graciously shipped several pounds of pastrami shipped to me so that I never have to go too long without its glorious flavor.
Siegelman’s Restaurant Deli
912 Algonquin Road
Arlington Heights, Illinois
LATEST VISIT: 23 November 2005
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Pastrami, Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup