The first meet our expectations, serving us the comforts we want, in the atmosphere we’re used to, keeping the tradition alive.
The second exceed our expectations. They take deli and bring it a notch higher, raising the standards on the food, on the packaging, on the whole damn idea of Jewish deli. Portland, Oregon’s Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen is such a place (the latter). It is, simply put, in a class by itself.
When we started up Kenny & Zuke's a little over 5 years ago, it was because of the lack of a good Jewish Delicatessen - and decent pastrami, bagels and the like. Little did we realize what we would set in motion. and what the response to it would be!
The first thing we had to come up with was a superb pastrami - one that wasn't commercially produced, and harkened back to the old traditions. So we rolled our sleeves up, and tested, and tasted, and tested some more. And when it was all done and the smoke (oak, to be exact) had cleared, we knew we were on to something. We had developed a true American delicacy - a Pastrami so delicious, so satisfying that it seemed like a new and ultimate comfort food. Yet at the same time, we came to the conclusion that we weren’t really doing anything new. We were, in fact, doing something very old. And in this case - better. And we found that very few people were doing it this way anymore. We were now considered “artisans” when all we were really doing was fabricating something the way it had always been done, before commercialization and standardization took its toll.
But boy did people notice, and our pastrami took us from a little farmer’s market in Hillsdale to a standing room only brunch at my old restaurant, Ken’s Place, to the wildly successful Delicatessen that bears the name Kenny and Zuke’s.
And we found that once we had started tinkering with one thing, we just couldn’t stop. So we felt compelled to craft the pickles, and the rye bread, our fabulous bagels and bialies, a Challah worth the name, and virtually everything on the Kenny and Zuke’s menu. And the chord we hit in Portland was immediate and overwhelming, finding a place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. What we produced touched a nerve. The flavors that we brought back to life were like old friends to our clientele, acquaintances they had made through their grandmother’s cooking, or visits to Delicatessens from wherever they hailed or visited, or childhood take-out feasts with their families.
We hope you’ll visit with us at Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen. Bring your memories along, and create some new ones.