Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rye Ridge Deli: What a Deli is Supposed to be...or Is It?

At first glance, Rye Ridge Deli is like any other neighborhood deli that you might encounter. Yes, they have your standard sliced roast beef, turkey, pastrami, bologna and ham. But they also have brisket, tongue, liverwurst, imported sardines, Genoa salami and sopressata, just to name a few.

Lunch at Rye Ridge Deli was a fourth-time venture for me and the second time around for my husband. Three out of those four times, the food was fantastic, so much so that after my first visit while house hunting in Stamford, I went back to Atlanta and had dreams about Rye Ridge Deli beating the hell out of Subway Sandwich Shop in hand-to-hand combat. This fourth time...well, let's just say if this had been my maiden voyage, there would not have been a second, third or, nay, a fourth return visit.

The High Ridge Road location of Rye Ridge Deli (they have two other locations in Rye Brook, NY and Fairfield, CT) is unassuming from the outside. When you walk inside, you're confronted with all sorts of delectable looking fare behind the counter—from pre-sliced lasagna, to pizza, to assorted cold cuts and cheeses, all of which can be prepared made to order right there at the counter. Walk around the corner, however, and there's a full restaurant area where you can dine with about 90 of your closest friends.

As I wasn't a Rye Ridge Deli Virgin, I felt reasonably confident that my lunch would be just as good as, or better, than my earlier meals there.

Confidence is so overrated.

We took a seat at the back of the deli—not because we were trying to make a statement, but because practically every other seat in the place was occupied—and looked over the extensive menu. Rest assured, there is a lot to choose from. Maarten preferred to go with his old standby, a turkey reuben. Since my adventurous streak rears its head at the most unlikely of times, I ordered the Southwestern Turkey Burger with roasted red peppers, salsa and cheddar cheese. Sounds good, right? That's the power of advertising, folks.

While we sat around making idle small talk, the waiter plunked down a bowl full of pickles (at least 7) of various sizes and colors on the table. Never in my life had I seen such a thing. A bowl of pickles? Oh well, when in Rome . . . I grabbed a dark green pickle and took a bite . . . it was a sour pickle. Man, that took me way back in the day when, as a child, my friends and I would trot up to the local 7-Eleven and, there at the counter, we were able to dig in a giant mason jar for our very own giant sour or dill pickle for a mere $.25. Yum.

Finally, the food arrived. Both of our entrées came with french fries but, for some unknown reason, they decided to toss in three huge onions rings on top of my mound for good measure. I wasn't complaining. I was, however, complaining when I took the first bite of my turkey burger. The meat tasted like it had suffered from freezer burn, the roasted red peppers looked and tasted like they had come out of a can that had been sealed during WWII, and the cheese . . . what cheese?!? I muddled through the plank of dead meat while Maarten, as uninspired as ever, trudged through his very bland, nearly cheese-less turkey reuben that was on sourdough bread, not marbled rye, and was as dry as a tumbleweed-riddled ghost town because there wasn't a drop of thousand island dressing on it.

What happened, Rye Ridge Deli? Why strike out now? I'm not ready to give up on them, but for crying out loud, don't do this to a hungry woman! I know everyone has their bad days. Why, just last week, I was ready to pick up a large wing-backed chair in my home office and chuck it out the window out of sheer frustration. But that's a-whole-nother story.

Would I recommend this restaurant? You betcha! Despite today's fiasco, I would still go back because of my three previous favorable experiences there. I believe in forgiveness. I forgive you for today, Rye Ridge Deli.

Is Rye Ridge Deli a good value or do you need to take out a loan to eat here? Well, they do stuff their sandwiches full of meat; any enterprising individual would take half the meat off their sandwich, stick it in a plastic bag, take it home and make a second sandwich with it. They can be a bit pricey, though ($10.99 - $16.99 for a burger); on the other hand, they offer dinners that include soup or salad, potato, veggie, dessert and coffee, along with the meal itself, from $14.99 (Chicken Fingers) to $24.99 (a 10 oz. Boneless Sirloin Shell Steak).

What about atmosphere and ambience? Well, it's a place to eat inside of a deli. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. But you wouldn't go to Rye Ridge Deli because you wanted to set the mood for a special occasion.
Open 7 days a week

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