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Rye Deli + Drink - West Loop

Rye Deli + Drink - West Loop
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  • Rye Deli + Drink - West Loop

    Post #1 - January 29th, 2021, 7:42 pm
    Post #1 - January 29th, 2021, 7:42 pm Post #1 - January 29th, 2021, 7:42 pm
    "Take everything you know about delis. Now throw that in a smoker for 14 hours."

    That quotation is from the homepage of Rye's website and while it's not the whole story, it certainly describes a lot about their approach. While pastrami -- a traditional deli staple and a featured, house-made item at Rye -- is always smoked, many other items on Rye's menu wander off from their traditional iterations, and not always into the smoker. Bagel toppings, labneh-based shmears and most notably, the matzo ball soup, are just a few items that take sharp left turns off the familiar route.

    We ordered a bunch of items to sample and were really impressed by the obvious care, level of craftsmanship and quality of ingredients that went into the food. There's an unmistakable artisanal ethos here that is creative and conscientious. Considering we picked up, held our food for a couple of hours and then reheated most of it, I don't think a detailed analysis makes much sense.

    Yes, the bagels had a lustrous sheen and light, crispy shells. Yes, the labneh spreads were fresh, tangy and herbaceous. Yes, the matzo ball soup was exceptionally rich and intense. But the bagel flavors include za'atar, thyme + sea salt and blue masa + cinnamon. The labneh flavorings include charred strawberries + honey and burnt eggplant, garlic, lemon + pomegranate. The matzo balls contain blue corn. So, the food is well made but if you're looking for traditional deli fare, Rye may not scratch the itch. If you're looking for creative, well-made and distinctive food, you'll want to check Rye out.

    Image
    Assorted Bagels
    Everything, poppy, plain and za'atar.

    Again, we ordered a bunch of items and my favorites were the aforementioned bagels and the house take on Brik, a traditional Tunisian egg pastry, aptly named the Brik House. Per the menu description, this version contained free range egg, fingerling potatoes, fresh thyme + dill in a crispy crepe shell. Even heated up well after the pick-up, this was a winner.

    The mazto ball soup left me conflicted. The intense and untraditionally-flavored broth was spectacular. It was chock full of delicious shredded chicken, too. But the mostly-beet and radish salad, intended to be dressed a la minut and ride atop the soup, seemed out of place. And those balls just did not do it for me. I thought the blue corn was discordant and the balls themselves were a bit more dense than I prefer them. But I'll admit that I may have been experiencing a bit of reverse confirmation bias. Had I not expected matzo balls, I may have liked these more than I did, density aside.

    We tried a few sandwiches. My favorite was the Smoked Turkey, which was served on a house-baked pita and dressed with fennel, smoked almonds, swiss chard and greek yogurt. This was an original and tasty take on a ubiquitous sandwich that is almost always ordinary in restaurants . . . but it certainly wasn't here. Pastrami and reuben sandwiches were very well made, and ample, and served on some beautifully grilled bread. The house-cured meats (and smoked, in the case of the pastrami) were easily better than most of standard-issue, commercially-made stuff out there. If you're not used to making your own, these are bound to please you.

    It's virtually the same story with Rye's beet-cured, house-smoked salmon. It's as good or better than anything I can remember getting in town commercially but compared to some homemade versions, you may not fall in love with it, which I really hoped I would.

    We had some other items -- perfectly seasoned, tender cauliflower salad, ultra-crispy house-made potato chips, etc. -- that were also distinctive and very enjoyable. And we didn't even tap into the sizable Drink portion of the menu at all, which I look forward to doing in person at some point down the road. Right now -- per their outgoing-only voicemail message -- they're offering take-out only, Thursday through Sunday. We opted for curbside and the experience could not have been friendlier or more personable.

    =R=

    Rye Deli + Drink (website)
    25 S Halsted St (Crowne Plaza Hotel)
    Chicago, IL 60661
    (312) 602-2100
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #2 - January 30th, 2021, 11:46 am
    Post #2 - January 30th, 2021, 11:46 am Post #2 - January 30th, 2021, 11:46 am
    A couple shots of the soup . . .

    Image
    Matzo Ball Soup
    Rich deeply flavored broth and lots of shredded chicken, along with a pair of blue corn-powered matzo balls.

    Image
    Matzo Ball Soup w/garnishes
    This is probably about 10% of the garnishes that were provided. They were mostly ribbon-cut beets and radishes, along with some fresh herbs. I ended up using the provided oil and salt to dress them, then ate them separately as a salad.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - January 30th, 2021, 11:51 am
    Post #3 - January 30th, 2021, 11:51 am Post #3 - January 30th, 2021, 11:51 am
    Dear Ronnie,

    Please stop dicking around and show us the pastrami and reuben sandwiches. We want the Meat!

    Best regards,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - January 30th, 2021, 2:54 pm
    Post #4 - January 30th, 2021, 2:54 pm Post #4 - January 30th, 2021, 2:54 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Dear Ronnie,

    Please stop dicking around and show us the pastrami and reuben sandwiches. We want the Meat!

    Best regards,
    Gary

    LOL, okay. I did not intend to be coy or parse this out. I honestly felt that, due to a slew of variables that were beyond my control, the pictures I took did not do the food justice. The last thing I want to do is misrepresent a newly opened spot, especially in the current climate. So, please understand that the food in the pictures that follow is not necessarily as it was immediately served/sold to us . . .

    Image
    Reuben Sandwich
    Purchased on Thursday afternoon. This is the last remaining portion (about 1/3 of the initial sandwich), reheated on Saturday afternoon.

    Image
    Half-Pound Pastrami
    Sold in a sealed Waring vacuum bag on Thursday and opened on Saturday for its photo shoot (I actually have a Waring gun, so I resealed it). Great marbling; better than the pastrami that was on our sandwich. If you look closely, you can see the impression/tread the bag made on the meat while it was sealed. This is a testament to how well and conscientiously it was packed.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - January 31st, 2021, 2:06 pm
    Post #5 - January 31st, 2021, 2:06 pm Post #5 - January 31st, 2021, 2:06 pm
    We live a five minute walk away so get takeout form there occasionally. IMO the bagels are universally excellent. Not a traditional flavor, but I like the zaatar and sea salt one more than everything or poppy seed. Although when we eat at home we do with butter. And the owner is more than generous with them...we've had a few extras thrown in a few times when ordering later in the early afternoon.

    The matzoh ball soup is filling, full of flavor and a meal to itself. But I can't bring myself to add beets and radishes to it. We actually eat them with the olive oil dressing as a side salad too.

    Maybe it's because we're Jewish and used to Manny's and traditional deli, from everything from The Bagel to the late Carnegie Deli (RIP) in NYC, but the corned beef sandwich is just too rich for us. It's thick cut and while tasty, hard to eat more than a small portion. And NOT lean. Likewise with pastrami. Just doesn't feel "right" even if the meat is probably of better quality overall.
  • Post #6 - February 1st, 2021, 12:08 pm
    Post #6 - February 1st, 2021, 12:08 pm Post #6 - February 1st, 2021, 12:08 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Sold in a sealed Waring vacuum bag on Thursday and opened on Saturday for its photo shoot (I actually have a Waring gun, so I resealed it). Great marbling; better than the pastrami that was on our sandwich. If you look closely, you can see the impression/tread the bag made on the meat while it was sealed. This is a testament to how well and conscientiously it was packed.

    =R=


    Looks like the chuck pastrami (as opposed to their shoulder pastrami) at Hungarian Kosher in Skokie, not necessarily a bad thing; when sliced thin it's excellent. Can't one person bring a genuine New York hand-sliced steamed pastrami to our city? We've had steam for countless centuries and knives for longer than that.

    Oh, and I did stop by to get a breakfast brik (a deep-fried Tunisian filled pastry). My takeaway, overpriced and oversalted. If you're going to refer to something as your signature dish (shouldn't the public properly bestow that designation?), it had better be a massive "wow"! By way of example, Andersonville's Fiya has a khachapuri that is pretty unique (similar to what I've had in Israel) and all I could think about while eating it was getting my next fix. Similarly, I've had filled bourekas (also in Israel) that were simply mind-blowing. Not fair comparisons, but if they went out of their way to create a memory, it's disappointing. Will definitely go back for deli.
  • Post #7 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:05 pm
    Post #7 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:05 pm Post #7 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:05 pm
    Hey, I'd love for these guys to do well, and in general, anyone trying to do anything, "deli" has my support. And I'll add, all the pastrami I had was on one sandwich. But that sandwich, it was not good. The pastrami was so heavily salted, I could barely finish the sandwich. Also, the meat was sliced, and sliced thick, but I'm guessing not sliced to order, and thus was not particularly tender. I'd like to think I had a bad batch.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #8 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:19 pm
    Post #8 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:19 pm Post #8 - February 2nd, 2021, 12:19 pm
    Like I said, I'm ready to go back and explore the menu (it's walking distance from my office), but, like mom says, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • Post #9 - February 2nd, 2021, 3:34 pm
    Post #9 - February 2nd, 2021, 3:34 pm Post #9 - February 2nd, 2021, 3:34 pm
    Vital Information wrote:Hey, I'd love for these guys to do well, and in general, anyone trying to do anything, "deli" has my support. And I'll add, all the pastrami I had was on one sandwich. But that sandwich, it was not good. The pastrami was so heavily salted, I could barely finish the sandwich. Also, the meat was sliced, and sliced thick, but I'm guessing not sliced to order, and thus was not particularly tender. I'd like to think I had a bad batch.


    Ditto. To all of this. (Note: we had ours back in late November.)

    Continued to be amazed that no one else besides myself has posted on Jeff & Jude's pastrami sandwich: not only is it far superior to Rye's, it's among the best sandwiches in the city (if you don't rip your mouth off eating it first).
  • Post #10 - February 13th, 2021, 3:32 pm
    Post #10 - February 13th, 2021, 3:32 pm Post #10 - February 13th, 2021, 3:32 pm
    Swung by to check it out the other day and I think my sentiments line up fairly well with Ronnie’s. The bagels and labneh are excellent and worth a visit for them alone. The briks are a tasty breakfast bite, and something you can’t get elsewhere. I had the smoked salmon as well and thought it was very good. The fish felt like really high quality too.

    My main issues were this: the pastrami in the brik was very salty (and I have a salty palate already so it just be a lot) and the brik itself was a bit oily. There was an issue with a fryer delaying things so that might explain the oiliness. The smoked salmon had some of the bloodline left in it which gave an unpleasant fishy flavor, but that was easily fixed by a pair of kitchen shears thanks to the joy of being unable to eat at restaurants anymore. None of the issues were the type to keep me away or cause me to not recommend the place.

    I also want to say how nice they were when I was ordering and waiting for my food. Because the fryer issue delayed things, they threw in extra bagels and an order of smoked salmon even though it was only a few extra minutes and I didn’t seem bothered at all.
  • Post #11 - February 14th, 2021, 8:33 am
    Post #11 - February 14th, 2021, 8:33 am Post #11 - February 14th, 2021, 8:33 am
    Vital Information wrote:And I'll add, all the pastrami I had was on one sandwich. But that sandwich, it was not good. The pastrami was so heavily salted, I could barely finish the sandwich. Also, the meat was sliced, and sliced thick, but I'm guessing not sliced to order, and thus was not particularly tender. I'd like to think I had a bad batch.


    gnarchief wrote:My main issues were this: the pastrami in the brik was very salty (and I have a salty palate already so it just be a lot) and the brik itself was a bit oily.


    Maybe my inedible Reuben wasn’t a one off. Impossible to eat it was so salty. The bread came apart pretty easily too. Went in expecting to love it (lots of love from others) but def didn’t love what I got. Plus it was kind of a pain ordering.

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