In my humble opinion, the Reuben sandwich is the tastiest sandwich on the face of the planet. There is just something about these tasty little morsels that almost never fails to set my taste buds ablaze. So it is no small thing when I say I think that I may have had both the worst, and best, reubens I’ve ever eaten this week, in a pair of restaurants right across the street from each other.
I will open with the worst of the two restaurants, the Silver Diner. For those who did not know, the Silver Diner is a small chain of restaurants up and down the Eastern seaboard, taking the Americana-style diners known for their cheap, fatty and fulfilling food, and replacing it with pricey, organic and wholly unsatisfying fare. Had I known that prior to one of my friend inviting me to join them for lunch there, I likely would have declined the offer, but alas, I always had a weakness for 50s-flavored nostalgia. I will give the Silver Diner credit there, it has all the chrome and jukeboxes even the most ardent 50s fan could crave.
Unfortunately, the food quickly dashed any sort of benevolent feelings I may have had toward this establishment. I ordered, as you might expect, a Reuben, after nearly gagging at the price tag, and following that by gagging on the Reuben itself. The bread was far too ‘crunchy granola’ for my taste, the meat was sparse, and the dressing and Swiss cheese was almost an afterthought. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against organic food, and will be the first to admit it tastes amazing – It’s one of the many reasons I will likely but the folks at my local Chipolte Mexican Grill through college. However, the key word should not be ‘organic food’ but ‘tastes amazing’, and somewhere along the line, the folks at the Silver Diner forgot that. Having organic and fresh ingredients is great, but there’s not much of a point if you don’t know how to put them to good use.
Worse then the food however, was the service, which to be frank, was unforgivably bad. My waitress, who shall remain nameless solely based off of my bad memory, not my mercy, had to have been the worst server I have had in recent memory. Following being led to our booth, she would not return for ten minutes to ask us for our drinks, and would not refill them. When we ordered, she kept cutting us off, and after plopping the plates on our table, never once returned to ask how the food was. Toward the tail end of the meal, she kept hovering over our table, in a not-so-subtle way of seeing what kind of tip we would leave her. Needless to say, she wouldn’t get a penny from me – no small thing considering I like to think of myself as a generous tipper.
It goes without saying that at least in my eyes, the Silver Diner has lost its sheen. Nostalgia aside, the food was sub-par, and was far too pricey for what it was. Even ignoring the food, I will likely never go back just based on the service. I would urge any of you who had thoughts about going to do the same.
If the food is any indication, there is a reason for that. I ordered a Reuben, hopeful that the experience would prove better than my last one, my hopes were very well placed. From the first bite of my sandwich, I was sold completely. It was pure and utter pastrami-induced bliss. It was everything a good Reuben should be and more. It was well toasted, piled high with well seasoned Boar’s Head Pastrami literally dripping with flavor, as well as good amounts of kraut, Swiss and Russian Dressing. From the bit of cheeseburger my friend traded for some of my fries, the cheeseburgers are every bit as good. Throw in the fires and pickle that come with each of the sandwiches, and you have yourself quite the satisfying meal – and one that’s a steal at the given price at that.
In addition, the service was admirable. We came in the midst of the high point of lunch rush and yet were seated, given drinks and had our food out in front of us in less than ten minutes. The servers made sure our drinks remained full and our needs met, yet never crossing the line into over-attentiveness. All seem happy to work there, and ply their trade well. On the way out, the gentleman on register made a note to tell me to come again for breakfast, informing me they had the best omelettes in town. Given what I’d had at Boychik’s that day, I may just do that. At the very least, I will come back for another one of those Reubens, that I have no doubt.
In direct contrast to the Silver Diner across the street, Boychik’s Deli is everything a good eatery should be. It’s cheap, friendly, and above all else, boasts some of the best sandwiches I have yet consumed. While I cannot say if they are a true New York deli as they claim to be, they certainly are one of Richmond’s best, and they’ve made a returning customer out of me. If any of you crave a good bite to eat, I urge you give Boychik’s Deli a try. One bite will be at it takes to win you over too.