The Roast Beef Sandwiches Of Yesteryear

March 18th, 2014 § 0 comments

For many years the McGinnis Restaurant on New York’s Broadway (there was also a branch in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn) dispensed a lavish, rare roast beef sandwich. Its rival was The Brass Rail on nearby Seventh Avenue. The Brass Rail was adjacent to the Roxy movie palace (named after the showman “Roxy” Rothafel and demolished to make way for undistinguished office towers). The Brass Rail specialty was “The French Dip”. This was a roast beef sandwich on a mini-baguette dipped in a savory beef gravy. (Messy. But not as messy as the Chicago Beef Sandwich, a favorite in the Windy City). The best of all New York City roast beef sandwiches was served at Shine’s on 7th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets near Penn Station. There a stately African-American man in a chef’s hat carved slices behind a counter from a vast roast with surgical precision. On the more pedestrian side, HG liked the roast beef sandwiches served at many of New York’s old fashioned Jewish delicatessens in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. A nice smear of chicken fat on seeded rye. Roast beef. Coarse salt. Black pepper. Sliced sweet onion. In the days when Harlem was a Jewish neighborhood, there was a Harlem delicatessen (name, alas, forgotten) that served the sandwich and attracted customers who had to patiently wait in a long line in order to enjoy the treat. The Chicago Beef and the Philadelphia Cheese Steak never caught on in New York. The New York attitude: “Why hide the flavors of delicious rare roast beef carved from a prime rib, corned beef, pastrami and brisket?” Why, indeed? HG/BSK had a delightful Saturday tradition after shopping at Bloomingdale’s.. HG/BSK would visit nearby Dover Delicatessen and pick up roast beef, ripe Liederkranz cheese, a sliced rye bread, potato salad, cole slaw. HG/BSK liked their roast beef sandwiches with Russian dressing. The cheese was showered with chopped onions and paprika. Much fun.

Crystal Bay Dining Room McGinnis Restaurant, 48th Street New York City

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