Who doesn't love deli food? Jack's Deli has been a staple in the community, and thus in my family's dining out plan, for years and years, so when my mom suggested it for dinner, I figured, why not. Surely I could find something and if not, well I'd eat a plain bake potato and some salad and let her enjoy the knishes, or giant sandwiches made with thick rye bread, or the challah french toast, or the matzo ball soup, or the blintzes....
To begin with, as always, there were pickles, a bizarre complementary appetizer if ever there was one. The thing is though, growing up around it, the idea of pickles - particularly delicious, cold, crunchy dill pickles - as a pre-meal snack doesn't seem that odd at all. Maybe it's a Jewish thing. Now, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not pickles are safe, what with the vinegar and all. But I've been told personally by Dr. Peter Green that pickles are an acceptable part of a gluten free diet, so that's all I have to say about that. ...Oh. That and yum. I mean, look at them.
Anyway, if there's one thing non-celiacs take for granted, it's their ability to open up the plasticy pages of any menu and order the first thing that catches their eye. It took my mom, who had decided to go gluten free this evening, several minutes to settle on the stuffed cabbage (stuffed with rice and meat, and smothered in a tomato sauce). The dinner came with two sides - of the many side dishes, lots of them being naturally gluten free, she chose the cooked carrots and string beans - as well as a choice of soup and her choice of coffee or tea. Since the cabbage was that night's dinner special, her gluten free feast came to her at the incredibly affordable price of $10.99.
This is especially note worthy as eating gluten free usually comes at a high price. Our breads and pastas are 3 times the price of everyone else's and for what we pay for flours, we might as well own bakeries. So being able to get a meal enough for two days at a reasonable price? It makes Jack's quite a find.
I was able to order basically off the menu, too: an omelet with spinach, avocado, and alpine Swiss cheese. My dinner came with two breakfast sides, too, but our adorable waitress Charisma, who was particularly food allergy sensitive, knew enough about how the food was prepared to steer me clear of the french fries and home fries. Instead, she offered to swap out the potatoes and toast in favor of a fresh fruit cup and sliced tomatoes.
After dinner, I had a short conversation about the gluten free offerings on Jack's menu with one of the owners, Alvie. After a little who's on first type of "what is gluten" education, Alvie offered up several gluten free options - "you could eat a hamburger! or a hot dog! or...!"
You're right, Alvie. There are lots of gluten free options available at Jack's. But it's more than that. Jack's touts itself as authentic deli food, and I have to say that I judged every New York deli I ever went to on how it compared to the food I remembered from here. It's good, no, great, to know I can still get hearty meal here, celiac or not. Jack's Deli's easily adaptable menu, the knowledgeable and friendly staff, and the quality food makes it a place that really should be on your gluten-free restaurant Rolodex.