Monday, November 22, 2004
my mom wanted to go to one of those french-canadian-modern-interpretive-dance-unironic-homoerotic-in-a-circus-context circuses here in vegas, so we did. afterwards, we were starving, and noticed there wasn't a line at a crazy men-in-black-set-meets-70s-LAX-airport diner. we wandered over to see what it was, and was surprised to see it was the las vegas outpost of la's canters deli--a jewish delicatessen well-known to club kids, night owls, metal bands, and their ganse mishpochah. it's not the best deli in la, but probably the best known.
i was only a little surprised that there was a vegas outpost; a ton of restaurants from los angeles have local branches. i was a lot surprised, however, about how completely different the decor is between the two. the la deli brings new meaning to the word 'brown' and is decorated in early seventies naugahyde; the vegas store is stainless steel, leather bench seating, and resin doodads everywhere. the vegas branch has only a few menu items, where the original's menu is like a mini-encyclopedia of deli creations--everything from borscht to varnishke. the la canter's is also well-known for crazy large deli sandwiches, the most popular (i'm told) is the one called the canter's fairfax--half a pound of warm pastrami and corned beef piled on rye--although the only one i actually remember by name is the danny thomas--fried salami and bologna on rye. no, never ordered it, and it's not on the vegas menu.
we ended up ordering the grilled reuben sandwiches--one with pastrami (pictured above), and one with turkey, piled onto grilled rye bread slathered with a layer of saurkraut, and served with either potato salad or cole slaw, which is inexplicably made with lettuce here, not cabbage. actually, i don't remember ever having potato salad nor coleslaw at canter's so i can't compare it. the sandwich was good, not great, although i can't pinpoint what it is that didn't do it for me. i think perhaps the bread was a commercial brand, not one fresh from the canter's bakery, and even though there was a hefty portion of meat, it wasn't the same amount you'd find in la. i recall not being able to bite into a sandwich without a little fork work first. the quality of the meat itself though, was fine--lean, flavourful, mildly spiced. i was slightly taken aback to find that the sandwiches are served on disposable plates with disposable silverware. huh? if i'm paying close to ten bucks for a sandwich (which i was), i'd think that there'd be real silverware involved.
even weirder was that real china and real silverware was used in our order of matzo ball soup. wtf? i guess they couldn't find disposable stuff that could withstand the weight of the single giant matzo ball bathing in the schmaltz-iest chicken soup i've seen in a long time. all that chicken fat can't be good for you. but it does wonders for the soup.
overall, the food was okay, but the whole canter's in vegas thing was a little too overwhelming. i think the ambiance and the familiarity of the la shop actually adds to the tastiness of the food. however, it was nice to see that despite the space age airport lounge look, the clientele remains eclectic as ever--senior citizens, families with babies, unemployed magicians, et al. perhaps in time, it will gain its own vibe that would make a return visit more enjoyable.
near the race and sports book
at treasure island
3300 s. las vegas blvd
las vegas nv 98101