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Richard's Visit to "On Rye" in DC

by Richard Blackman

    

Visited “On Rye” today for lunch, a new Washington DC counter deli a block from Gallery Place Metro. On the whole it was a great experience and I’d definitely recommend.  Four of us, not my usual deli cohorts, but three able substitutes. (You can also read my review of delis, and my review of top foods to try before you die.)  We ordered one CB, one Pastrami, one Pastrami Reuben, one Pastrami bacon sandwich (not pastrami and bacon, but pastrami bacon) three “healthy” (no egg or cream) egg cream sodas and potato salad and three babka ice cream sandwiches.  Everything got high marks.  They brine the pastrami there.

    

As we walked in we met Adam, the GM who had been the GM at Wagshalls market and comes from a deli family.
  Remarkably, he remembered me from my visit to Wagshalls over a year ago. Behind him was the young owner.  She did well in finding the experienced deli-man Adam to run the shop.

     At 11:40 am Thursday, folks were just starting to come in.  We ordered at the counter then found one of approximately 20 tables to sit.  The wall was neatly decorated with “deli” items and books, including, “Save the Deli,” “Second Avenue Recipes” and “Mile End,” in deference to the deli-theme.  Also on the wall were displays of deli mustard, Dr. Browns and other items.  I put a dent in their display when I asked to take home a bottle of their excellent “Kosciusko” deli mustard. 

     The pastrami was moist and tasty, corned beef a tad tough but also tasty. The pastrami, although not Katz’s (NYC), was probably the best I’ve had in the DC area.   Ed rated the bacon pastrami his favorite; he said they hit it out of the park.  Mike gave the reuben top marks.  Steve, the millennial, seemed to like everything and was quite pleased to be able to take home the leftover half cb/half pastrami sandwich which we couldn’t finish. We all considered the sandwiches to be the perfect size.  Filling, so we could all finish, but not stuff ourselves.  Some folks on the web had complained about the high prices $13 and $14 for the sandwiches given their size.  I’d rather order this size for $13  than the Carnegie Deli $20 overstuffed sandwich.  

    

From Ed, “I think it’s important to mention the cooking method. The Sous vide method of cooking is relatively new…. and made the beef perfectly cooked.   Adam even commented how impressed he was by the technique.  The meat itself wasn’t overly salted and that coupled with some of the best DC bread was really a treat. In fact neither was the pickle – to me the lack of salt was a pleasant surprise.  Sometimes a deli sandwich is nothing more than a “salt-lick”  But this meat had true flavor!” 

     The potato salad was some of the best I’ve had (in my 45+ deli visits), and ranked at the top with Goodmans NJ deli.  The egg creams hit the spot and were good if not “wow” worthy.  Same for the pickles. The Babka sandwiches – our favorite was the pumpkin, unfortunately only seasonal.  We would have liked them more had we not just had full meals.

    
The atmosphere was cheery, the GM Adam seemed to enjoy bantering with the customers, checking out how things were with the customers and made it seem homey.  You can tell he loves working there.  I wasn’t crazy about the cardboard plates the food was served on, but I give them credit for being enviro-friendly. 
They do have a nice selection of vegetarian “deli” delights (the smoked beet reuben sounds yummy) but it’s hard to pass up good pastrami.