Old school sandwiches at Eisenberg’s.

Last night, as I bit happily into my tuna sandwich, I pondered the age old question: is the sandwich the perfect food?  I seem to recall my father and his father making that claim, and turning out some pretty fine (to a young man) sandwiches to prove that point.  Not having had a family-made sandwich in a while, and harboring a comfort food craving, Eisenberg’s (5th Av. just north of 22nd St.) was my and my girlfriend’s destination last evening.  This egoless locale may not declare its sandwiches to be perfect on the awning, but the case is pretty compelling.  

For those of you who, like me, may have spent idyllic childhood/teenage afternoons hanging out with the grandparents, the concept of a lunchtime sandwich is as comfortable as an old shirt.  While I don’t ever recall being served tuna by the fam, Eisenberg’s egg salad on rye with lettuce and tomato ($4.25) is as close an imitation of my grandparents’ preparation methods as I’d dared to hope existed in this day and age.  A hunk of lettuce and a none-too-ripe tomato from my dad’s side, and rye and fresh egg salad from my mom’s side – simple!  The generous helping of pickles (more available on request) do Vlasic’s jarred variety several notches better, thankfully.

Their grilled sandwiches also exude perfection in a home-made, old-fashioned sort of way.  Looking for a panini-style grilled cheese?  Keep moving.  This griddle is absolutely flat, greased to perfection, and, most importantly, not used to crush whatever sandwich you were looking forward to into something unrecognizable.  It does, however, grill the cheese sandwich to crispy perfection ($4.00).  Just like dad used to make, except for the choice between American, Cheddar, Swiss, or Muenster (dad was a strict Cheddar advocate in those days).

The grill also makes a pretty damn good version of a tuna melt ($5.75) possible, but the real star there is the tuna salad itself.  I’m not sure anyone in my family ever made tuna salad this good, probably because they were using Miracle Whip or Hellmann’s to sweeten everything up.  Non-sweet mayo, as Sietsema suggests (Eisenberg’s is number 56 on the 2005 list), makes this salad better – mixing it fresh and to a strict recipe help, too.

Eisenberg’s has even thought of a few Dagwood possibilities never divined by any of my relatives – perhaps a few of my stoner friends, though.  Can’t decide between egg salad and tuna salad?  Get both on the same sandwich for $5.95, in a combination that tops Shopsin’s “Mother and Child Reunion” in the category of weird sandwich mash-ups.  Don’t worry, though – the tuna and egg salads aren’t mixed together.

I’ve not tried Eisenberg’s pastrami, brisket, or corned beef, nor sampled their cream cheese and jelly sandwich ($2.25) – has this ever been on the menu anywhere else?  The Tuesday and Thursday meatloaf special (supposedly an original recipe since 1929) sounds intriguing, though – bet they make a mean meatloaf sandwich.  Mmm.

Wash it all down with a lime rickey ($1.50) – not as consistent as the sandwiches (carbonation, lime flavor, and cherry flavor have varied from visit to visit), but guaranteed not to taste septic like that Goodburger one did.  They can make a real egg cream, too, and they carry the NYC deli staple Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray ($1.10), what must surely be the world’s only celery soda (and an acquired taste, according to my girlfriend).

If you’re looking for a retro soda-fountain date locale, Eisenberg’s is the place – along with the right drinks, the ambiance is pure early-20th-century lunch counter, right down to the built-in stools and soda-water.  I’d probably avoid the tuna and egg combination if you want to be kissing afterwards, but in any other case, the sandwiches are dynamite, and highly recommended.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Old school sandwiches at Eisenberg’s.

  1. K.O. Slow

    The tuna salad is great. Friday’s they have a shrimp salad special.Their turkey is not the great, but their pastrimi is wonderful. The rueben is good, though I prefer just getting pastrami (the Rye cannot contain it).

  2. I recently had a hankering for a burger and was pleasantly surprised to see that Eisenberg’s, always a favorite of mine, has added them to their menu. (A sign proclaiming <>77 Years in the Making<> crookedly hangs on the wall.) After trying one, I must say that this is the <>best burger I’ve had in years!<> No joke. And believe me – I know burgers! (I feel sorry for the poor shmos who stand on line for 45 minutes at the Shake Shack for a so-so burger. They don’t know what they’re missing!)I’ve also tried Eisenberg’s new and improved <>Chopped Liver<> which is terrific. On Fridays, the <>Shrimp Salad<> is a must, too.As always, <>the best Tuna, BLTs and fantastic breakfasts<> – all at very reasonable prices.There was an article in the <>NY Times<> last Thursday about Eisenberg’s being under new management. This Josh guy has really improved on what I thought was already an outstanding joint. (He’s the big, affable guy at the register.)All in all, you’ll have a great time and great food at Eisenberg’s. If you’ve never been there, go! You’ll immediately feel as if you belong. (It’s kinda like “Cheers”…with eggs!)

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