Matzoh Ball Soup, Pastrami Sandwich, Brisket on Challah
Occupation: Construction Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen
Reviewed Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen: Friday, July 21, 2006
On Polk Street in San Francisco, where people from the Marina cross paths with people from the Tenderloin, you’ll find a hidden gem: Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen. It’s as if they pulled a delicatessen from Manhattan and dropped it on Polk Street. Food ranges from traditional New York treats such as blintzes, matzoh ball soup, smoked salmon, meat loaf, hot pastrami sandwiches, barbequed brisket, toasted hoagies — the list goes on and on. I’ve been to Miller’s on numerous occasions and have brought friends and family from the East Coast who swear the food is fantastic, authentic, so much so that they feel as if they’re back in New York again.
The menu is loaded and ranges from traditional soups and salads, to specialty wraps, burgers, and full plate meals. On this particular trip I decided to dine on two favorites –- matzoh ball soup and a Rueben sandwich. It’s a lot of food and I’m rarely able to finish it all, but they complement each other so well it’s tough to avoid. The spices and flavor of the matzoh ball chicken-based broth is incredible — it pours through your mouth… The one large matzoh ball (the way it should be!) rests on the bottom of the bowl. It’s far and away the best matzoh ball soup I’ve had. I order it often. The Rueben, however, may be the best item on their menu. Fresh, toasted, light rye bread stacked high with thinly-sliced (again, the way it should be!) corned beef, fresh sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and topped with Swiss cheese. It’s big, messy, and absolutely delicious! All the menu items are always fresh with robust tastes and flavors. I’ve also had the toasted hoagies, corned beef sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, beef brisket, lox and bagels -– each equally qualifying as nearly the best in its category.
The atmosphere is very comfortable with an eclectic mix of local neighbors, business people, and a lot of regulars, including older folks I’ve often imagined were New York transplants. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful, and the mood throughout the restaurant is very upbeat and enjoyable. Many of their meats are shipped in from the East Coast (however the corned beef is made by a local Irish San Francisco family that has been making corned beef in the area since the 1920s). Additionally, much of their bread is shipped in from the East Coast for that true genuine taste and style (the rye bread is half-cooked on the East Coast then shipped out here and finished).
You could go to a normal deli and get a plain sandwich, or you could go to Miller’s and get the best sandwich of your life. I would imagine if you’re from New York, you’ll agree it’s as if you’re walk into a midtown Manhattan or Brooklyn local spot. In conclusion, I suggest you drop whatever you are doing and run, don’t walk, to Miller’s. Street parking is available on Polk and the surrounding blocks and is rarely a problem. Go now, thank me later.
Occupation: Software Engineer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Da Flora
Reviewed Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen: Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Miller’s may be the most authentic NY-style deli we have in S.F. When you walk in and are confronted with the long counter you may not realize they have table service. Luckily the friendly staff quickly lets you know to have a seat. The counter offers a great chance to check out the goods, especially the desserts, but I was grateful not to have to order at the counter. Looking around you see that décor is pretty Spartan. There are a few prints on the wall and some photographs, the tables are set with paper napkins. It’s bright and I’m sure if it’s full, it’s loud. Bottom line, this isn’t a “destination” restaurant, but, I’m sure I’ll go back.
Having never been, I decided to have a meal of deli classics: borsht, potato knish, and a pastrami sandwich. Our waitress talked me out of the borsht saying they had a new “more traditional” recipe for the borsht and she didn’t care for it. Instead, I had the chicken noodle soup. I was happy with the substitution. If I lived in that neighborhood I would be stopping in for that soup to go on a regular basis. It was full of chicken, had a well-seasoned broth, and came to the table really hot. I’m sure I won’t catch a cold for months.
The knish also came to the table so hot we were unable to eat it as quickly as we tried. We shared it and everyone at the table enjoyed it. Now that they’ve passed the potato test, I look forward to the next visit to try the meat knish.
Next came the pastrami and my first impression was relief that it wasn’t the classic NY-style portion of about a pound of pastrami on two tiny slices of rye. Don’t worry, there was plenty of pastrami, and it was delicious. The meat was tender and moist with just the right amount of seasoning. I picked half of it out and ate it plain with my fingers leaving the other half laced with Hebrew National mustard to eat as a sandwich. On the side was a large crisp dill pickle (thank you, Miller’s, for not having those disgusting “fresh” pickles) and some of the best restaurant potato salad I’ve ever had. (Maybe even better than my own.)
One of my companions had the whitefish platter. This is totally not my thing, but he loved it and I think will be eating from it for the next two days. It was huge! Most portions I saw tended to be. Because of the size of portions and the amount of food we ordered, none of us were willing to order a slice of the gorgeous cheesecake we saw as we entered. Once I got home I regretted not getting a slice to go. Next time!
My only complaint is that a pastrami sandwich should come with a beer. Miller’s doesn’t serve alcohol but they redeemed themselves by having Barq’s Root Beer. I drank Barq’s (it’s good) in honor of my home state, Louisiana.
If you’re needing a deli experience, Miller’s is worth a visit. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and I’m still singing the crooner classics we heard while we were there.
Occupation: Theological Librarian
Favorite Restaurant: Picante
Reviewed Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen: Saturday, July 8, 2006
We loved Miller’s East Coast West Delicatessen. From the moment my party of four (including three adults and a preschooler) walked in the wait staff made us feel welcome. Because Miller’s is a deli, we also liked the simple, kid friendly décor, and finding a table was easy when we were there in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Even parking was easy to find on a nearby side street. Something non-San Franciscans can appreciate.
The menu reminded me of the East Coast delis I used to love when I lived in Brooklyn. Lots of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, and a wide assortment of fish was available. Ultimately, my dining party chose the brisket on challah, pastrami, and Swiss on a hoagie roll, and a kosher hot dog. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I had the Chief, a yummy combination of corned beef and pastrami with coleslaw and dressing on challah. We also ordered up a half-order of French Fries and an order of onion rings.
It wasn’t long before the drinks and food came out. We liked the fact that the staff anticipated the junior member of our party might spill his drink and served it in a cup with a lid. Nice touch. When the food arrived the portion sizes were generous and we could have easily split the sandwiches. Once we dug into our sandwiches, silence hung over the table as we all fell in love with the food. The meat on each sandwich had a nice balance of fat to meat. The challah bread was soft and barely contained our sandwiches. Both the coleslaw and the potato salad served as side dishes tasted fine and went well with the sandwiches. We also all remarked at how good and not greasy the onion rings were that they served. Except for half of one of the sandwiches, we all cleaned our plates. Walking out of the deli, we all remarked that we wanted to come back and eat something else off the menu. Unfortunately, we were all too full to taste the desserts which looked equally as good as the food we had already eaten.
For us, this was a great place to eat and judging from the other diners, this is clearly a neighborhood favorite. The friendly and knowledgeable staff combined with a really East Coast menu made for a great dining experience. We also liked the fact that this was not a fussy place and besides, who doesn’t like that they play Elvis music?