"Gonna hold your body close to mine. From this day on we're gonna be together. Oh I swear this time I'm never gonna let you go."
Remember Sergio Mendez? Or Piano Man by Billy Joel? The Carpenters?
Yup, that's the kind of throwback you'll find at Carnegie Deli. Along with the décor, unchanged probably since they opened, and even the aging clientele.
I expected there would be a line, as this NYC institution is scheduled to close at the end of the year, and indeed I waited about 20 minutes for a table.
At first everything went smoothly. We sat, ordered our meal, and the water came out. Then the sandwiches, but not the drinks. And it went downhill from there.
I ordered the Woody Allen, a seven-inch tall sandwich, half corned beef, half pastrami, and only half an inch total of bread. I finished half and gave the other half to the homeless guy sleeping outside. The meat was dry. When we went to Katz deli, the guy gave us a sample of steaming hot, juicy corned beef before letting us order. My local prime meat shop, Ottomanelli's in Queens, offers a really tasty hot corned beef sandwich too. I think the only thing that Carnegie was best in was the mustard, perfectly tangy for the meat.
My dining companion ordered a beef tongue and egg sandwich. Tongue is a delicacy, and it's one of my favorites. They didn't do it justice, as it tasted just like any other cut of meat. Unlike my favorite local taco truck in Queens on 52nd St. and Roosevelt Ave., that really brings out the buttery tongue taste in their lengua quesadillas.
They didn't bring out my chocolate shake until the end of the meal. While waiting for it, we heard one waiter say he was submitting a grievance report to corporate, and another waiter telling him, "Go, we don't need you here." All the while the poor manager was telling everyone to calm down. The kitchen stopped putting out orders. And half the restaurant was empty by the time I actually got my shake.
I ended up taking my black and white cookie to go. Still not the best in New York. If only they had ordered their black and whites from the same place the Jack Daniels pop-up did.
Total $64 plus tip for two sandwiches, an egg cream, a chocolate shake, and a black and white cookie