Rye Delicatessen: A first look

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Rye is ready to take your order
​The neighborhood must have been watching closely: It seems the moment the doors opened to the new Rye Delicatessen, the crowds moved in. On the morning we visited, the poor girl working behind the counter had a glazed-over, slightly panicked look in her eyes. It seems the night before, the counter had been swarmed and they'd basically run out of everything.

Lucky for us, they have staff working 24 hours a day brining and baking to keep those deli cases full. Though the cash register was being a bit buggy, our tasting crew was able to order a wide array of dishes and dug in.

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​Our tasting panel assembled included local stand-up comedian Dan Mogol, also a self-identified Jewish person; cookbook author and baking celebrity Zoe Francois; and Stephanie Meyer, food blogger and gluten-free eater. It's a tough crowd, but we weren't there to judge, just taste. We ordered the hash, eclairs, cheesecake, rugelach, chopped liver, smoked meat hash, the "Deli Debris," and somewhat illogically, poutine.

Unfortunately for the elcairs and cheesecake, they're kept in the same deli case as the smoked whitefish, lox, cucumber onion salad, and chopped liver. There was a faint but present residual flavor--a little cucumber in the cheesecake crust and a bit of onion in the eclair. Our server explained that one of the owners used the cheesecake recipe from the Plaza Deli, and we were assured that the shared case is only temporary. They will soon be separated from the savory items.

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Rich, whipped, and creamy cheesecake with just a hint of cucumber
The owners take the deli business seriously, having sampled some of the best Jewish delis from around the world. It was on a trip to Montreal that an excited Tobie Nidetz, one of Rye's owners, tasted a style of smoked meat he was excited to share with Minneapolis. The local media then reported that this would be a "Montreal-style deli," which it apparently is not. Good thing, since no one knew what that meant anyway. The owners' goal is to make this a Minneapolis deli, using what they learned and tasted at delis the world over, which they then brought home and made local, including touches such as using Hope Creamery butter and Peace coffee.

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Chopped liver for the liver lover
The rugelach were the runaway hit on the table. Flaky, tender-crisp crust was wrapped around chopped, dried apricots, currants, and walnuts dusted with a bit of cardamom. They were delicious.

The liver reviews were mixed. Mogol lamented that it could use more schmaltz, that it didn't have that great, clean, chicken fat flavor that schmaltz adds. Meyer found the liver flavor a bit strong, exclaiming she had, "liver nose."  Meanwhile, a nearby table of ladies were all happily munching on their chopped liver sandwiches, proclaiming it, "Good! Really good."

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Deli Debris--like Jewish nachos
The Deli Debris arrived with sliced garlic bagels (made in house) covered with cheese and smoked meat and topped with spicy vegetables. "It's like Jewish nachos!" proclaimed Francois, who is also a member of the tribe. The pickled mix of peppers was hot and vinegary, the garlic-powder-spiked bagels were smothered in gooey cheese and studded with the "smoked meat," a brisket made in-house pastrami style but not as peppery.

The hash was a mix of hash browns, more smoked meat, and over-easy eggs, the yolks breaking and creating a creamy sauce for the hash browns. The addition of the table mustard added a welcome bite to the dish.  If a deli is to be judged on its mustard alone, this is a bell-ringer.

The poutine might have been an odd thing to order at 10:30 a,m.  The fries were fresh, fried golden with brown, crispy edges and a fluffy interior. Topped with smoked meat, fresh cheese curds, and a simple brown gravy, they begged to be paired with a beer.  The cheese curds arrived cold, but we're guessing it's not an entirely common breakfast order.

Rye has a full bar and is open until 2 a.m. The space still has the bones of the former tenant, Auriga, but the interior is gleaming, clean, and new. The bar area is still in the back, but the room is now wide open, allowing for plenty of morning light to stream through the windows. 


Rye Deli
1930 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Hours: 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. Daily
Rye Deli website



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13 comments
Slippersmom
Slippersmom

I got takeout the other day -- so-called pastrami, some bialys, lox and chopped liver.  The bialys were good but not great, the chopped liver was good as well.  The pastrami was not pastrami nor was it anything I had ever tasted.  The guy took it from a "steamer" marked"smoked meat" and when I asked, he said it was pastrami.  No way.  Dry, inedible shoe leather.  Horrible.  We actually threw it out it was so bad.  Really!  The lox on the other hand was terrific ... salty and greasy, the way it should be!  So a pretty mixed bag and frankly was not impressed .. not in a hurry to return. 

Todd Miller
Todd Miller

I've been waiting for an exceptional deli to arrive in the neighborhood.  Welcome !

Bad poutine, worse service
Bad poutine, worse service

I also had the poutine. At peak dinner time, Thursday night. It was still cold.

Nothing makes me more angry than people messing up simple food. I asked the waitress to put it under the broiler and melt (or thaw at least) the cheese, and she came back with the same dish that they had just dumped another ladle-ful of lukewarm gravy. We left it mostly untouched. And pretty livid at an overall bad experience. Boo.

Richardzw
Richardzw

Poutine.  "Feh" That cacaputza sounds cha-lousious!. Like something, as my mama might say   "foun katz touchis aroiz".

MS
MS

Had the poutine last week -- awesome!  Also the corned beef sandwich, the chicken matzoh soup, the tabouleh and the black & white cookies.  Very impressed all around.  (Oh, and the bagel and bialy I took home for later tasting were also quite good -- my kids were impressed too.)

Uncle Sid
Uncle Sid

Deli...poutine?  Poutine...deli? 

AG
AG

The poutine at Duplex is wonderful, mostly because of their brown gravy.  However, nobody in town can do poutine as simple and tasty as them, as the embellishments found at Groveland Tap are unnecessary and very detracting.

Honestly
Honestly

Also: how hard is it for a Twin Cities restaurant to make authentic, doesn't-need-to-be-messed-with poutine? Just fries, cheese curds, and gravy --of course, you need to know gravy (like the French Canadians) so I assume these joints are covering up their own inept attempts (e.g. Burger Jones).

Honestly
Honestly

Most of the images are sideways on my mobile viewer.

Jeff
Jeff

why would you order poutine at a Jewish deli anyway?

Honestly
Honestly

Haven't tried it at Duplex, its been an unnecessarily long time since I've been there. Cool, another potential contender!

CS
CS

I had the poutine, sans smoked meat.... and it held up well.  You can order "classic" or with the meat.

Honestly
Honestly

Thanks for that info --then I retain hope and will give it a try (I probably would've anyway at least once since I'm a sucker for it, but now I'll do so with more optimism).

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