Sunday, July 21, 2013


One of my most missed foods from the USA is deli-style sandwiches, specifically the reuben. Even though my home-state is not at all known for deli food, being the Midwest and all, I could still manage to put together/find an amazing reuben.

Lunch meat is cheap in America, making our sandwiches rife with the stuff. That's a big part of a 'deli-style' sandwich, in my eyes - pile that meat so high that it is definitely going to be hard to eat. They're dinner sandwiches, preferably a dinner you're eating alone in a room with no cameras, so you can eat it with abandon.

Anyway, I'm always on the hunt for a reuben in the UK that will meet my mid-level expectations, but they've all fallen short so far. A lot of this has to do with A) lack of meat in the sandwich, B) weird bread choices, or C) very little dressing. Lots of corned beef/salt beef/pastrami, rye bread, and put on enough dressing that I can taste it. That's all I ask.

Mishkin's is a 'kind of Jewish deli with cocktails' owned by the same people who own Polpo and Spuntino's. I've eaten at both of those restaurants and enjoyed my meal, so I was looking forward to their attempt at deli food. The prices though, sheesh. Granted, I don't know how expensive delis are in New York, but the chain deli I frequented in the Midwest was hardly high falutin', being a place that served roast beef sandwiches and all. I know things are just more expensive in London, but it's hard to swallow (so to speak) half a sandwich, no sides, no drink for $9.00 - in a restaurant that is purposefully making itself look kitschy and out-of-fashion.

I'll do it, and I did do it, but I don't have to be happy about it. I'll avoid complaining about prices for the rest of this entry, but it does seem particularly egregious to charge import prices for food that can easily be sourced/prepared with ingredients in the UK. They're not taking in shipments of sauerkraut from anywhere but maybe Germany, so c'mon. Maybe I am more willing to accept high prices for foods I know little about (say, Polpo - I don't know how much some meatballs would cost me in Italy, so I can't complain) but when it comes to American-style food I have a pretty good idea of what the prices should look like, and you shouldn't be spending $16.00 on one reuben.

We started off our meal by splitting a plate of corn dogs, which was two corn dogs with 'green ketchup', which might be a thing in New York or something, but certainly isn't a common side in the other 49 states that enjoy corn dogs. Should be though, as it was quite nice! Slightly less tangy, and definitely less sweet than regular ketchup, it was a nice compliment to what ended up being some very delicious corn dogs.
The batter for these was nice & fresh, more on the side of crispy tempura/fish fry than the average cheap-o American corn dog that is coated in a weird sponge cake that tastes like cornbread. So, these were super tasty, if not significantly smaller than their American brothers. Quality over quantity, I suppose. I was glad they weren't mini corn dogs, the menu doesn't specify and I find the mini ones to be an abomination on all that is good about processed sausage dipped in carbohydrate mix. Here's a strange fact; Mishkin's serves ketchup and mustard in the 'classic' American squeezy red and yellow bottles, but the mustard is English mustard. So before you go dousing your corn dog in delicious, mild American mustard like you did at a carnival a decade ago, remember that it is eye-watering English mustard instead. Even though it is in a big yellow bottle like so much French's... tricksy.
To be fair, this is a pretty solid reuben panini. I don't know why it has been pressed and toasted as much as it has, and why the bread looks like Any Bread Ever instead of dark rye bread, but it is still pretty good for a panini version of a classic hot sandwich. Nowhere does it say that it is a panini, but that is the only possible explanation for the condition of the sandwich.

 The meat is good, there is plenty of it and pastrami is a perfectly acceptable substitute for corned beef - but there was so little dressing. If it wasn't so declasse, I would've pried apart my heat-pressed sandwich and inspected to see if there even was any at all. A reuben isn't meant to be slathered in dressing, but you should be able to taste it - I mean, it is part of the sandwich. The sauerkraut was there, at least, but it was a bit dry and lacked a pickled punch. I'll chalk this one up to it being more authentic, maybe - after all, Germany is more near Britain than it is America, so maybe it's meant to be like this and less like what we get at home. The cheese was fine, but all it had to be was Swiss and present. As you can see from the picture, it kind of just looks like a pastrami & swiss sandwich. I really think that if you're going to press the sandwich, which is going to dry it out, you have to double up on sauce - or else you end up with this - a very dry, meaty sandwich.

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. However, the onion rings & fries were quite delicious - onion rings battered in the same light and crisp coating as the corn dogs, and the fries firm with skins left on. No problems there, they were actually some of the best onion rings I've had in the UK.

At this point I was feeling pretty half-and-half about Mishkin's: what I came for was a bit of a bust, but there were some unexpected heroes in the form of classic American carnival foods. Maybe they ought to stick with that theme rather than the deli stuff?

I was interested to try dessert though, as I wasn't sorely disappointed and rarely do I find myself unhappy after a dessert. I ordered the Wonky Cookie Stack & Ice Cream, which is left tantalizingly vague on the menu. Or maybe that is actually a really good description, and not at all vague. Either way, I was intrigued.
It might not look inspiring, but this was easily the highlight of the evening - neigh, the highlight of my week. I will not take anything away from Mishkin's when it comes to this dessert - it was fun, tasty as all get-out, and best of all, actually warm and cold. So often when you order like, a brownie sundae, you get an icy cold brownie with a scoop of icy cold ice cream on top. Seems people are so concerned with the ice cream melting, they forget the amazing taste sensation that is a warm baked good underneath some cold, smooth ice cream. These cookies alone were delicious - oat-y but soft, chocolate-y but buttery. Just perfect - definitely felt like a freshly baked cookie, regardless of their true patronage. I would've been happy to just get a couple of these and some dunking milk for dessert.

The ice cream was good quality vanilla, with bits of bean flecked throughout - nothing to write home about, but it's Wonky Cookie Stack with ice cream, not ice cream with Wonky Cookie Stack.

The raspberry/red sauce was unexpected, and a great blend of tart and sweet - it might not immediately make sense on top of cookies and ice cream, but it really complimented the hearty cookies well, and it didn't compete. Somehow, it just made the cookies taste stronger - more cookie like. That extra bit of ice cream on the very top?

Brother, that ain't ice cream. That's a big gooey marshmallow, and it was awesome. This might not be the dessert everyone will immediately order, with cheesecakes of the day and bananas foster to be had, but when it comes to cookies I'm always willing to take a risk - and I was greatly rewarded this time around.

Over all, Mishkin's could be amazing. If they got the reuben in order, I'd happily spend the money they're asking. The service was good, very friendly and very quick. They need to not grill all the moisture out of the sandwich, and maybe rethink the price of a hot dog. Until then, it will be hard for me to justify a return trip, even if the desserts and sides were excellent.


    you know you're deli foods alright!!

  2. you are spot on about the Reuben!
    waay too small for the amount.
    and who smashes a Reuben anyway?
    the cookie treat looked, and read as
    very nice!
    i shall try that one!