gourmet kitchen: get it while you can

gourmet kitchen/402 myrtle ave. (corner of vanderbilt)/718-643-9423 i have been meaning to eat at the gourmet kitchen for, oh, about four years now. why it took me so long to make my way to a place that boasts of "pastrami and corned beef" on its awning, i have absolutely no idea. then a couple of weeks ago there was a post on our local parents' listserve about how gourmet kitchen was about to lose their lease. finally, i had the kick in the butt that i needed!

we traipsed in today, one loud small child and one harried mother and one rather large red wagon (we were out running errands), and nobody blinked an eye. in fact, they all smiled at us. i took one look around and instantly felt like i was back at the local lunch-counter spot that my grndma used to take me for lunch when i was a kid: formica tables, formica counter with stools, a couple of men sitting at the counter reading the paper and drinking coffee, and a stooped, white-haired guy behind the counter who looked like he'd been filling the same sugar containers for the past 50 years. it's the kind of place where all the customers get called "baby" or "hon". when someone comes in and places a to-go order, the waitress writes it down and then, without moving an inch, repeats it back to the kitchen at top volume.

we parked our wagon and took a couple of seats at the counter. i perused the menu, even though i knew that i was going for the pastrami. it's your fairly standard diner fare: burgers, gyros, big breakfast selection, sandwiches, salads. but a few things stood out: 1) grits! you can get them as a side with most of the breakfast dishes. i do love grits. 2) the hot pastrami/corned beef/roast beef selection, of course; besides the basic "on rye" variety, you can also get a reuben (mmmmmm), club sandwiches, and a combo sandwich with all three meats, which doesn't really appeal to me but i know it would make my husbands' eyes light up. 3) crab and salmon cakes, which are also touted on the awning outside.

i ordered up the pastrami from brenda, our fantastic waitress. you can get it on a roll or on rye; i opted for rye since brenda assured me it was free of caraway seeds, and said yes to mustard. brenda slid it on to the counter about two minutes after i ordered:


it tasted just as good as it looks. the pastrami is cut on the thicker side, as you can see. not what i'm used to in a pastrami sandwich, but i liked it, it made it more like a steak sandwich. the meat was tender and flavorful with just the right amount of fat. the bread was fresh and soft but held together till the last bite. absolutley just as great as anything i've had at katz's.

i asked brenda what the deal was with them losing their lease, and she said that the business had been there for 30 years, she's not sure when the end is coming, and that they were being forced out because "they want to knock down the building". when we walked out after lunch, i realized that gourmet kitchen was in a one-story building. ah-ha. yes, can't let that sit there when a 10-story condo tower could fill the space just as easily!