Went with Dave, his brother in law Stephen and Bob to Sammy’s Roumanian Monday night down on Chrystie near Delancey. What a heavenly meal. The kind of meal you’d want if you were going to be executed at dawn. The place is shabby-looking –I think it’s meant to put off people who don’t know what they’re getting into. Menus that look like they were run off on a mimeograph machine from the 70s, a guy behind an electric piano doing disco and Jewish wedding music, fluorescent lights. No matter.
First, there’s a bottle of Ketel One in a block of ice on the table. Now, the last place I went to where they put a bottle of vodka on the table, and left it, was a Russian place in Brighton Beach I went to with friends in the late 80s. Some of the worst food I’d ever had. Everything tasted like it was made from beets and lard. The only thing you could do was drink. I vaguely remember dancing to Russian music, too. It was a ghastly meal.
Not so at Sammy’s, not so. There was the requisite fast-talking waiter, who pegged me as the only Gentile at the table. Bob ordered appetizers – always a good idea to let Bob order for the table. Have never known him to make a bad call.
Kishkas, chicken liver, and these delicious sausages – forget what they were called, but they’re made with veal and lamb, and they come without a casing. But the rock star was the chicken livers. They mix it in a big bowl with onions that have been fried in chicken fat and then they POUR RENDERED CHICKEN FAT ON TOP.
Seriously. There’s rendered chicken fat in a syrup containers on the table. So you can just pour it on anything like it’s maple syrup. It looks like Tang.
Remember Tang? Astronauts drank it.
If you’re a vegetarian, you’re probably heaving right now. But I don’t care. More rendered chicken fat for me, you cry-baby vegetarians.
The waiter came for the entree orders and I said, “Stuffed cabbage.” He said, “No. You want the steak.” I said, “Yes, you’re right. Bring me the steak.”
The steak came. Sweet Mary Mother Macree. It was stuffed with about a thousand cloves of garlic. It was lapping over the sides of the plate, like something Fred Flinstone would eat. No potatoes, no broccoli, nothing to distract from its awesome steakness. I put the first bite in my mouth and almost fainted from deliciousness. Then I had another shot of vodka to buck me up.
We didn’t do a lot of conversing. Other than “More bread” and “Are you gonna finish that?” and “Try this.”
Oh! Wait! I forgot dessert. And there were latkes with applesauce, did I mention the latkes with applesauce?
So – Bob ordered egg creams and rugelachs for dessert. And you make them at the table. They bring you the glasses, milk, Fox U-Bet chocolate syrup, and seltzer. Dave got chocolate pudding which comes with its own pint of heavy cream. I’m not kidding. They should serve it with a side of lipitor.
It was so excessively wonderful, so over the top. We all walked a few blocks. I was clutching a tray filled with a few leftover dabs of chicken liver, a few bites of my delicious prehistoric dinosaur steak and clutching a bottle of recently thawed Ketel One. We said our goodbyes at Broadway Lafayette, and I decided to walk over to Houston on the Number One, feeling happy and at peace with the universe. And filled with steak.