Monday October 10, 2011
Across the country, nostalgia tends to sell well when it comes to dining. Smaller towns play up their "historic" downtown areas, and old drug stores, diners and soda shops are often restored to resemble a simpler and "more innocent" time for America. Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop, a throwback from another era for sure, is a different breed. It's been so consistently busy and beloved since opening in 1929, they just never bothered to change anything. The takeout line extending out the door and the busy lunch counter attest that this is no museum, but rather a no-frills sandwich shop that serves up hefty portions of comforting classics. The sign out front says it best, "You either get it or you don't." Its popularity might confound the average Yelper or anyone expecting anything frilly, fusion-y, locally sourced or artisanal (whatever this actually means), but those who can appreciate the simplicity of a tuna salad sandwich, a hearty bowl of matzo ball soup and a proper Lime Rickey will "get it."
As for my most excellent dining adventure at Eisenberg's, I went with an oversized egg salad sandwich on wheat with bacon. The egg salad overflowing from the sandwich leaned more heavily egg than mayo (success!), and unsurprisingly, bacon turned out to be a wise choice (when is it not?), as crispy crumbled bits added a textural dimension. A serviceable side of steak fries and a brilliant, not-too-sugary Lime Rickey completed the experience. Other classic sandwiches include the likes of chopped liver, the tuna melt, the BLT and the corned beef and pastrami sandwich with Swiss cheese and slaw. The matzo ball soup draws rave reviews, as well. Eisenberg's is also one of the few remaining places in the city where one can get an egg cream, an old school favorite consisting of chocolate syrup, milk and soda water, but neither eggs nor cream. In fact, if you can identify all of the celebrities in the photos behind the counter, you are entitled to a free egg cream - my dining companions and I couldn't recognize them all, but we were familiar with a disgruntled looking Cynthia Nixon scowling over us while we dined.
I came in expecting Eisenberg's to be more about nostalgia and old New York ambience than the food. As I left completely stuffed and satisfied, I realized it's likely still around not because of our penchant for looking backwards with sentimentality, but because the food they serve is simply timeless.
"Raising New York's Cholesterol Since 1929"