Thursday, March 24, 2005

Nate 'n Al's: You CAN go home again

It's hard to believe that it's been over 25 years since I last set foot in Nate 'n Al's. When my parents were still married, my mom would take me to Sunday school at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church with Jimmy Stewart's kids, and then afterwards, we'd go to Nate 'n Al's for French toast or blintzes or lox, eggs and onions. When I was older, my dad took me for lunch there with his girlfriend of the moment, and around the age of eight, I fixated on the brisket sandwiches and never ordered anything else again.

Here's a poem about Nate n' Als I wrote several years ago. I must have been missing it.

corned beef? no, brisket
scrambled eggs and onions
chocolate milk with a rusty screw
french toast after sunday school
orange chocolate gels
scary yellow sturgeon's eye

When Kathy and Evy proposed having lunch there the other day, I slid into the booth, quickly noting that the room seemed to be identical to the last time I ate there, circa 1980 or so. I waved away the menu while munching on the complimentary pickles, ordering a brisket on rye as if I had just been in the other day. The waitresses seemed to be of equally venerable vintage.

The brisket was flavorful, although certainly drier than a Langer's pastrami. A schmear of brown mustard quickly remedied that problem. The pillowy, warm rye bread was soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside. The coleslaw was a fine accompaniment, not too sweet or saucy.
I had to buy a Joya raspberry joy bar at the checkstand, just to complete the experience. I felt instantly reduced to three feet tall, begging for a candy while my dad charged the bill to his account.
They're all wrong. You can definitely go home again, if home was Nate 'n Al's.

Nate 'n Al Deli
414 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills
(310) 274-0101