Rye Delicatessen & Bar overcomes early missteps

We've got no beef with this deli

Rye Delicatessen & Bar overcomes early missteps
B Fresh Photography
Rye's food hits all the right notes: Midnight turkey sandwich. Take the tour.

Zimmern absolutely shredded it, reviewers on Chowhound pulled no punches, and everyone with a bubbe was quick to give their detailed, comparative report. In the weeks following Rye Deli's opening, it was rare, perhaps unfairly rare, to hear it cast in anything resembling a positive light, and the hype that initially seemed like it would keep Rye afloat ended up nearly drowning it. Complaints swirled that the kitchen was out of knishes, corned beef, and whitefish before the lunch rush even began, and the people in aprons standing behind the counter couldn't even pronounce "rugelach" correctly. Still, the beautifully refinished space that once housed the much-lauded Auriga, with its appealing modern branding, and the prospect of an Uptown bar that would serve an expertly mixed cocktail in a relatively pretense-free environment, piqued the interest of those who wanted to experience a Montreal-style deli for themselves, myself included. Rye was not without its minor flaws, but haters beware: You will probably be as disappointed with this review as you claimed you were with the amount of egg in Rye's chopped liver.

Maybe our timing was just right, when the pace of business became a little more steady but not at all hectic and the temperatures we expect from a Minnesota winter actually started to set in, but the simple, homespun, made-from-scratch food that Rye was sending out of its kitchen hit all the right notes. The Reuben—with a thick-cut slab of toothsome, nicely salted, and fairly juicy corned beef on rye bread, with the faintest layer of Russian dressing, a scant amount of sauerkraut, and broiled-till-bubbly Swiss—is a "fork and knife" sandwich because it's open-faced, not because it's too sloppy or slippery to eat with your hands. People always seem to praise a Reuben that is loaded to the gills, but Rye's version was a little more elegant, akin to eating an oversized, assertively flavored canape. The little cup of coleslaw that accompanied the Reuben and several other sandwiches was unexpectedly light, with sweet flavor, good crunch, and a nice amount of vinegar. You can get it to go from the deli case along with dilly mustard potato salad, creamy hummus, and mint-flecked tabbouleh.

We also enjoyed plunging our knives and forks into the hot turkey sandwich, with mashed potatoes, gravy, and richly flavored dark-meat turkey on toasted challah, and a soothing potpie that replaced the traditional puff pastry topping with a cross-hatched diamond of rich, eggy knish dough, with plenty of light gravy and very tender chunks of chicken inside. A distinctive herb coming out in the gravy, or the addition of a non-pea-or-carrot vegetable, would have helped carry it to the same territory as Lucia's, which is still the best, freshest, and most refined potpie in town, but it was a valiant effort nonetheless. The hand-carved turkey, smoked meat, and awesome grilled salami sandwiches come with house-made pickles that keep all the green crispness of a young cucumber but with a warm, almost mulled spice to them. A couple of these with Rye's chopped liver, however "incorrectly" proportioned with schmaltz or egg or any of the ingredients you remember from that real Jewish deli back east, is a fantastic lowbrow answer to a plate of pâté and cornichon.

B FRESH Photography

Location Info

Map

Rye Delicatessen & Bar

1930 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

Rye Delicatessen and Bar
1930 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
612.871.1200; ryedeli.com
appetizers $3 - $7; entrées $9 - $15

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On the sweeter side, the springy square of carrot kugel is one of those dishes that keeps getting better as you eat it, with Willy Wonka-like waves of flavor from carrot cake and pumpkin pie revealing themselves. The cabbage and beef borscht, with its "sweet and sour" title, leaned decidedly toward the former. There was plenty of meat in the mix, but this soup seemed to derive much of its sweetness from carrots rather than the candy-dirt flavor you expect from beets. The decadent challah French toast, though perhaps not the most representative of traditional Jewish fare, is quite a delight at breakfast. Gorgeously thick slices of rich challah are doused in fragrant egg wash and then grilled until crisp. As if it needed improvement, Rye serves this treat with plenty of local butter from Hope Creamery. A huge, well-executed black-and-white cookie, with a crunchy layer of chocolate and vanilla glazes and a densely cakey center, was a perfect take-home dessert.

Not everything was clear skies and smooth sailing, but most of the disappointments came from items that felt as if they should give you more bang for your buck. For example, the midnight turkey sandwich is stacked so tall with hand-carved, herb-roasted turkey you practically have to unhinge your jaw to dig into it. The meat was tender, and the lemon aioli was tart and cheerful, but without a side of chips or accoutrement aside from salt, pepper, and iceberg lettuce, many customers will have a hard time with the $12 price. Similarly, Rye's chicken soup had a clear and golden broth with the kind of flavor that only comes from simmering bones for hours with bouquet garni. Rye offers the option of adding kasha (buckwheat cereal that is texturally similar to couscous), egg noodles, kreplach (filled dumplings), or matzoh balls. The matzoh balls were fluffy without sacrificing character, but they could have used more salt, and no matter how time-consuming the preparation of the add-in ingredients, $6 for a cup of soup is a little hard to swallow.

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8 comments
Dave
Dave

Worst poutine I've had in Minnesota --and I thought they couldn't get worse. I guess advertising dollars are getting the City Pages to try and be contrarian.

CJ
CJ

I've eaten here twice in the past week. Once for dinner and yesterday for breakfast. It seems really odd to have a "hand sliced" corn beef - when you expect it to be shaved and reminiscent of NY delis. Also the bread was pretty dry and bland. I would go back for breakfast - the coffee was good and loved the serve yourself. French toast was good as well.

Dog
Dog

This article is mind boggling. The writer actually shreds Rye without even knowing it! Sure, some of the products are praised, but here is some of the feedback from the review:

"fairly juicy corned beef". Since when is "fairly" acceptable??"faintest layer of russian dressing" (that is NEVER a good thing for a reuben, FYI, despite her effort to explain otherwise)"valiant effort" on the pot pie"unfortunately dry" smoked meateggs "poached a little harder than i usually like"sauce on the babkele was "grainy"The turkey sandwich, soup and matzoh ball were also negatively reviewed.

What gives, author? You gave negative feedback on the majority of the items, yet you try to save this place? Why? And you fault the people that negatively reviewed it in the past? Our experience a few months ago was horrendous. We were not alone. Inattentive customer service + average food is going to be the demise of this place. Period.

TallestGalactus
TallestGalactus

This good review is the exception. Everyone wants this place to succeed, but the MGMT/ownership is not responsive. Their food ha$ NYC prices in MN & isn't great. Design & interior is nice, but if you hype yourself as a jewish deli & your bagels are so bad I'd rather eat Panera's...FAIL. Too bad because I live across the street & wanted this to be a place I could frequent. $12 for only a small sandwich no sides isn't doable. We're in a recession, FYI.

eric
eric

The smoked meat was good (though not as good as in Montreal-- how COULD it be?) but the prices are extremely high. As the above reviewer said, $12 for a sandwich with no chips or fries seems pretty excessive to me. I really want this place to succeed-- our neighborhood needs more dining options-- but I just don't know about Rye...

Hungry Herb Dickerson
Hungry Herb Dickerson

I read the MSP Monthly review today and was tempted. But I'm gonna drop this place down the list again.

guest
guest

the problem is that NO ONE was there to apologize for being out of corned beef - for having to stand in line for a soda refill or for the sad excuse of a pickle....a "sorry but here is a coupon please come back" is all it would have taken to get us back. some restaurants deserve a second chance this one, which is run terribly, does not!

Jeff
Jeff

again... who the FUCK goes to a jewish deli to get Poutine?

 
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