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Zaftigs in Brookline – Almost Kosher

July 1, 2012

It’s a good thing I’m not an observant Jew, or else I wouldn’t be able to enjoy all that Zaftigs has to offer in a cool, dark, yet boisterous dining room on Harvard Street in Brookline staffed by what seemed to be an all-female cast of young women with similar characteristics (suffice it to say, I think Zaftigs is hiring waitstaff with a theme in mind. Or maybe it’s self-selection. I digress.)

Let’s start with toasted bagel slices instead of bread and herb schmear that my dining mates were all too happy to demolish. This might be one of the few times in the last few years that I’ve felt like I’ve had to compete for the free carbs.

Just to give you a sense of the fun decor:

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of sandwiches to choose from at this deli, but a lot of tempting breakfast-y plates as well. I almost went for a latke plate but then fortunately didn’t. You’ll see why shortly:

The trick with sandwich places and sandwich ingredients is finding the one with all the things you love and I love beef tongue and pastrami.

Jack & Marion’s

It’s hard to tell visually which meat is which because everything was sliced to an impressively uniform thickness but the taste and tenderness of the tongue immediately distinguished itself from the decent but not as delicious pastrami and corned beef. Disappointingly, the bread was a bit on the dry side and I wouldn’t have minded a more generous spread of mustard. The pickle left much to be desired as well, which is really dissatisfying to me at a Jewish deli – the edges were discolored and mushy and it was one of those one-dimensional salty pickles – lacking in sour and any other flavoring.

And then there was the latke, which was more like a frozen flat croquette with no filling than a latke lovingly made by shredding fresh potato and binding it with matzoh and egg.

Still tasty, but not what I was looking for when I made my side dish substitution. All in all, a strangely poor meal in spite of a very nice atmosphere, great staff, and lots of positive word-of-mouth.


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