Sunday, September 18, 2011

Guilt comes free at Kosher Nosh

We left the Montclair Hawk Watch last Sunday at just the right time to consider an early dinner, and often when Ivan mentions that, he has something specific in mind. This time it was corned beef, specifically from the Kosher Nosh in Glen Rock. He kvelled over it (well, he was complimentary) and said the place is an experience he used to enjoy with his family. Okay, good enough. You had me at corned beef.

The place is located in a small strip mall, and it's divided into the deli counter area and a very plain, cafeteria-type dining room. It wasn't all that full when we got there sometime around five p.m., so we grabbed a table close to the entrance, with Ivan kindly taking the side nearer the door so I didn't have to deal with the foot traffic. In record time, the waitress took our order -- while I was tempted to get the tongue sandwich, we decided to split a corned beef sandwich and each have soup. That's supplemented by the salad bar, which included the notorious 'health salad' (cole slaw, to the uninitiated), potato salad, macaroni salad and two kinds of pickles.     

By the time we returned to the table from getting our salads, our soup had arrived. As Ivan pointed out, this place doesn't fool around: they're all about getting the food on the table and down your throat. This was a substantial helping, probably suitable as a meal for those who just need something to sustain them until dinner. I had the vegetable soup, and while it had a good number of substantial pieces of carrots and whatnot, it was merely okay, maybe a little better with salt. 

The real treat was the corned beef. Warm and thinly sliced, it was very lean and tender, practically falling apart in my mouth. The sandwich was just the right size, too -- not one of those overstuffed monstrosities where they put the whole brisket on two slices of bread. I started wondering to myself, why is it I don't treat myself to this very often?

The wonderment came to a rude halt as I noticed that the dining room had very quickly filled and the pace got more frenetic. It wasn't long before a line had formed behind Ivan's side of the table, waiting for a place to sit. Specifically, there was a quartet of older people scanning the room expectantly for an opening. "Everyone under the age of 85, get out," one of them said. He might have also made a statement about needing a table before they all die. Telling me he was starting to feel guilty, Ivan jokingly told them that we were eating as fast as we could. They laughed, but I suspect that if we'd turned around for a second, they'd have taken the last morsels of our corned beef. Almost as if on cue, a busboy came over to take the empty sandwich platter. You definitely have to have a sense of humor going into that place, or the brusqueness of the service will be very frustrating.

The waitress came by, and though her expression clearly said, "you ate, now get out," she asked us if we wanted dessert. "We can't!" I exclaimed. "These people need a table!" She left the check, but I still had my pickle to finish. I'd definitely picked the wrong kind (it was perfectly fine... I'd have just preferred the dill), but I was going to finish it. They wanna guilt me? I'm impervious. In fact, I'll guilt them right back. The shiksa comes in for a good kosher meal and this is the way you welcome her? 

All told, we were probably in and out in 20 minutes, a half-hour tops. Good corned beef and an experience straight out of Seinfeld. What more could you want?

An aside: our experience clearly wasn't the exception. A friend tells me that she once went to the sit-down side of Kosher Nosh a half hour before closing, not realizing the time constraint. While she and her friends ate, the staff cleaned up around them and then hovered over them with their coats on, waiting for them to finish. Clearly, the guilt there comes free because they've raised it to a priceless art form.

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