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Eppes Essen...Livingston...excellent! One of the, if not the best...


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For a short time, there was a debate regarding the "Livingston deli's"...and that's fine. I like differing views, opinions, etc., and ultimately it means "more" good food (you would hope, LOL). The Irving's vs. Eppes Essen was the smaller, NJ version of Carnegie vs. Stage (although neither of the NJ establishments are truly an "institution" -- although I think EE is certainly close to it).



When Irving's first opened -- yes, it was "hot" -- it was "the place" as far as deli's go, but Eppes Essen had been around longer, and had an excellent following. I traveled approximately 30 minutes each time I wanted to go to Irving's, and it was worth it...when they first opened. I still went to Eppes Essen though. I could certainly see Irving's taking business from Eppes Essen...again, when Irving's first opened. Based upon Irving's "slipping" and being that it "jumped the shark" so to speak...no, it's not taking business from EE, not any longer, not in my opinion. I don't remember when, but I am going to say somewhere around 2010 or so, Irving's just slipped. I don't know if they "cut corners" or what -- but it changed, and not for the good. Service was cut, quality took a hit, etc. I have not been back to Irving's in a couple of years as the last 3 or 4 times I went, in my opinion, it slipped and suffered.



OK...so on to Eppes Essen...it was excellent...like I said, the best pastrami this side of the Hudson River...We ordered a variety, but I will stick to the standout, popular items, etc.



We started with a potato pancake and the kasha varnishkes...both excellent. My only gripe -- the kv -- while it was very good, those of you who know me, know I don't complain or make an issue about price. Expensive is a relative term. But value is something I do think about. If my memory is correct, the kv, was on the "appetizer" section of the menu, and it was either $11.95 or $12.95...so, like I said, it was very good, but the portion size was small! Very small. For that price, it wasn't enough for two people. I could have easily finished it myself, and still been able to finish my pastrami sandwich as well. Upon placing it down on the table, I was disappointed. It was served with some very good brown gravy. The potato pancake was also very good -- good size, good balance, substantial, and good taste.



On to the main show...the pastrami...it was excellent. In my opinion, you are not finding pastrami this good on this side of the Hudson. I ordered the "extra meat" which I think was $3 more. I don't remember. I don't care. It doesn't matter. LOL. It was superb!!! Absolutely, tastes and likes differ and if you tell me you like Hobby's better, OK, that's fine. Like I've always said, some people like chocolate and some people like vanilla. This pastrami was a "rich" and "red" meat, not overly smokey or greasy. It was an excellent example of what pastrami is in my opinion. It had substance, and was not cut thin at all, yet was like that "melt in your mouth" type of meat. Yes, this was the real deal pastrami. Tell me that they "buy it" from somewhere or someone else, that's fine -- but whatever they are doing from the time it arrives, to the time it hits my plate...they are doing it and doing it right! This wasn't overly fatty, dripping with fat, or stringy, but the fat content gave all the flavor I needed and wanted. It was "done right" in my opinion.



Side notes -- their pickles, both the sour and half sours were very good. The cole slaw was the best I've had in a long time. Both are brought out for the table, and they'll keep bringing it if you want it, LOL. The cole slaw was "fresh" and was a perfect balance between slaw, juice/dressing, etc. Excellent flavor and balance. I really enjoyed it.



After the meal I looked around the deli section -- beautiful cut pieces of turkey were displayed -- the entire breast just cut off, and also more of a quarter size turkey, the breast, leg/drumstick, etc. all in one piece, just sitting out displayed. They looked excellent, browned, done perfectly. Nice selection of cookies, cakes, etc. They had some whole pastramis displayed as well. The corned beef, pastrami, brisket, etc. sell well here -- both in the restaurant and in the deli. I am looking forward to trying the brisket and will talk someone into getting the turkey just so I can try that as well, LOL. The brisket looked excellent and some nearby tables raved about it.



Eppes Essen is probably a 30 minute drive for me...and it doesn't matter...I will go back...often. In my opinion, this is the best deli in Northern NJ, perhaps all of NJ. I still like Hobby's, which is a different experience, and a different kind of pastrami. I still like the Kosher Nosh (which is real deal Kosher) and it's local and convenient for me. But EE is the real deal and I am going back!!!


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A pastrami question: very often, I find that the spicing is lacking. Not enough coriander and so on. How does this one rate in terms of spice coating?

 

(For me this is an academic question, since I doubt I'll ever be in Livingston. But maybe others care.)

 

 

PS: I would have been aghast at that price for ANY size portion of kasha varnishkes. That's some high markup!

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I think Eppes Essen may have originated in East Orange or Irvington, and moved to Livingston in the diaspora of the 1960s.

 

(A check of EE's website somewhat confirms this. Founded in Newark in 1956, moved to Orange in 1960, and then on to Livingston. I remember the Orange store, which would be consistent with them leaving in the late 1960s for Livingston.

 

Hobby's and Bragman's continue to operate in Newark. They're among the few vestiges of Philip Roth era Newark remaining.)

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We ate at EE many years ago, and I thought it was all right. But then Irving's came along, and my family stopped going to EE. It's odd, because it's close enough to walk from their house. EE seemed to have a bad rep in my family, but I could never figure out why.

 

 

A few years passed, and I would agree with ELA that Irving's had slipped. Our family's loyalty to Irving's was, IMO just a matter of inertia.

 

On our next visit, I'm going to make a special effort to at at EE.

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Agreed...When Irving's first opened, it was excellent -- well received, popular, developed a strong following, etc. Like I said, I don't remember the timing or how long, but it certainly changed in my opinion.

 

I don't live in the area, but whenever I was there -- I would coordinate my trip/day and go to Irving's. I remember a Sunday or two where we would take a ride there and go. I'd find some excuse -- let's go look at this store, and by the way, we can go to Irving's!!! LOL. But it was always nice to go. We liked the experience as well. It was a different kind of place than EE.

 

Anyway, at some point, it had been quite a while since we went, and upon getting there -- the guy who hand-cut the pastrami, corned beef, etc., was gone. Service seemed to slip. Portion size was reduced and yes, the quality of food slipped as well. I don't remember the details, but it slipped.

 

I always did like EE, but when Irving's first opened, for whatever reason, it just became a go to place. I didn't forget about EE or decide not to go. I just "found it easier" to go to Irving's (location, more shopping nearby, etc. -- I don't know, LOL).

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  • 1 year later...

 

For a short time, there was a debate regarding the "Livingston deli's"...and that's fine. I like differing views, opinions, etc., and ultimately it means "more" good food (you would hope, LOL). The Irving's vs. Eppes Essen was the smaller, NJ version of Carnegie vs. Stage (although neither of the NJ establishments are truly an "institution" -- although I think EE is certainly close to it).

When Irving's first opened -- yes, it was "hot" -- it was "the place" as far as deli's go, but Eppes Essen had been around longer, and had an excellent following. I traveled approximately 30 minutes each time I wanted to go to Irving's, and it was worth it...when they first opened. I still went to Eppes Essen though. I could certainly see Irving's taking business from Eppes Essen...again, when Irving's first opened. Based upon Irving's "slipping" and being that it "jumped the shark" so to speak...no, it's not taking business from EE, not any longer, not in my opinion. I don't remember when, but I am going to say somewhere around 2010 or so, Irving's just slipped. I don't know if they "cut corners" or what -- but it changed, and not for the good. Service was cut, quality took a hit, etc. I have not been back to Irving's in a couple of years as the last 3 or 4 times I went, in my opinion, it slipped and suffered.

OK...so on to Eppes Essen...it was excellent...like I said, the best pastrami this side of the Hudson River...We ordered a variety, but I will stick to the standout, popular items, etc.

We started with a potato pancake and the kasha varnishkes...both excellent. My only gripe -- the kv -- while it was very good, those of you who know me, know I don't complain or make an issue about price. Expensive is a relative term. But value is something I do think about. If my memory is correct, the kv, was on the "appetizer" section of the menu, and it was either $11.95 or $12.95...so, like I said, it was very good, but the portion size was small! Very small. For that price, it wasn't enough for two people. I could have easily finished it myself, and still been able to finish my pastrami sandwich as well. Upon placing it down on the table, I was disappointed. It was served with some very good brown gravy. The potato pancake was also very good -- good size, good balance, substantial, and good taste.

On to the main show...the pastrami...it was excellent. In my opinion, you are not finding pastrami this good on this side of the Hudson. I ordered the "extra meat" which I think was $3 more. I don't remember. I don't care. It doesn't matter. LOL. It was superb!!! Absolutely, tastes and likes differ and if you tell me you like Hobby's better, OK, that's fine. Like I've always said, some people like chocolate and some people like vanilla. This pastrami was a "rich" and "red" meat, not overly smokey or greasy. It was an excellent example of what pastrami is in my opinion. It had substance, and was not cut thin at all, yet was like that "melt in your mouth" type of meat. Yes, this was the real deal pastrami. Tell me that they "buy it" from somewhere or someone else, that's fine -- but whatever they are doing from the time it arrives, to the time it hits my plate...they are doing it and doing it right! This wasn't overly fatty, dripping with fat, or stringy, but the fat content gave all the flavor I needed and wanted. It was "done right" in my opinion.

Side notes -- their pickles, both the sour and half sours were very good. The cole slaw was the best I've had in a long time. Both are brought out for the table, and they'll keep bringing it if you want it, LOL. The cole slaw was "fresh" and was a perfect balance between slaw, juice/dressing, etc. Excellent flavor and balance. I really enjoyed it.

After the meal I looked around the deli section -- beautiful cut pieces of turkey were displayed -- the entire breast just cut off, and also more of a quarter size turkey, the breast, leg/drumstick, etc. all in one piece, just sitting out displayed. They looked excellent, browned, done perfectly. Nice selection of cookies, cakes, etc. They had some whole pastramis displayed as well. The corned beef, pastrami, brisket, etc. sell well here -- both in the restaurant and in the deli. I am looking forward to trying the brisket and will talk someone into getting the turkey just so I can try that as well, LOL. The brisket looked excellent and some nearby tables raved about it.

Eppes Essen is probably a 30 minute drive for me...and it doesn't matter...I will go back...often. In my opinion, this is the best deli in Northern NJ, perhaps all of NJ. I still like Hobby's, which is a different experience, and a different kind of pastrami. I still like the Kosher Nosh (which is real deal Kosher) and it's local and convenient for me. But EE is the real deal and I am going back!!!

 

We finally ate at Eppes Essen, our first time since, oh, maybe back in the 70s or 80s. The dining room seems to have been attractively renovated in a tasteful and conservative way.

 

We agree with ELA about the coleslaw, it's fresh, crisp and nicely balanced between tart and sweet. My wife had a pastrami sandwich, and the meat was very very good. Nothing extreme, again, just balanced between smoke, salt and minimal fat. She was less impressed with the rye bread, saying that it was too soft but lacking "chew".

 

IMG_4127.JPG

 

I had the Double Knackwurst with warm kraut, sided by good, medium cut French Fries. The knackwurst were spiced just right and had the right "KNACK!" bite.

 

IMG_4128.JPG

 

Service was all right, but the busboy was most helpful.

 

 

We would certainly eat there again when in the area.

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Nice review...and thanks. I had lunch there a few weeks ago and got busy, so I forgot to post about it...in short...same, same, same...Excellent!!!

 

Interesting point and very observant about the rye bread. So, just my personal taste(s), but I find when you get a "substantial" pastrami sandwich -- a very good amount of meat, temperature, texture, piled, etc. -- the rye bread can be an issue. Yes, I think too soft vs. "substantial" coupled with some "chew" can be an issue. I've seen a few places cut the rye bread "thicker" and if there's a lot of meat, et al, then that could work. But you don't want "too much" bread. Fine line? Perhaps. I don't like "thin" slices of rye bread, nor bread that is too soft. If it is either of those -- it can get too "mushy" and compressed, and just fall apart. I like some substance to the rye bread, maybe cut a bit thicker, and so that it can "hold" the sandwich -- both together, and so that there is a good balance.

 

Thanks again for the review.

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ELA, the pleasure was ours.

 

Well, thank you...actually, as I've said, personally, for my likes, taste, etc. -- I don't think there are any "very good" Kosher or Kosher-style deli's in Northern NJ, EXCEPT for Eppes Essen and the Kosher Nosh. That said, the Kosher Nosh is very close to me (my office, and not "that far" from where I live) and given it's the best around me, I have no problem driving 15 minutes or so even if I was home. I've been to all of the deli's in Bergen County, and I think the Kosher Nosh is "the best of an average at best" bunch -- and I just can't find a really good pastrami sandwich I like in Bergen County. I think Benny's in Fair Lawn is "pretty good" -- but the Kosher Nosh is better. You get a "bigger" sandwich at Benny's, but the pastrami at the KN in my opinion is better, tastier, etc.

 

Now, I rate Eppes Essen clearly, definitively, higher than KN...but it's not "near" me -- probably 30 minutes from my office on a good day with no traffic, and even further from where I live. However, if I am "in the mood" and want it -- pastrami, kasha vanichkes, potato pancake, etc. -- I am going to Eppes Essen!!!

 

The whole Irving's thing -- once it slipped in my mind, and I didn't like it anywhere near as much as I did when it first opened -- brings me to a place where I don't really want to go back and try it. I mean, if I am "in the mood" -- and craving it -- what happens? I go to Irving's, order a pastrami sandwich, kasha vanichkes, a knish, etc. -- and if I don't like it, then I didn't have a good experience, maybe didn't fill my craving, etc. Method behind the madness or just madness? LOL.

 

That said, has anyone been to Irving's lately?

 

Thank you in advance.

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ELA, the pleasure was ours.

 

Well, thank you...actually, as I've said, personally, for my likes, taste, etc. -- I don't think there are any "very good" Kosher or Kosher-style deli's in Northern NJ, EXCEPT for Eppes Essen and the Kosher Nosh. That said, the Kosher Nosh is very close to me (my office, and not "that far" from where I live) and given it's the best around me, I have no problem driving 15 minutes or so even if I was home. I've been to all of the deli's in Bergen County, and I think the Kosher Nosh is "the best of an average at best" bunch -- and I just can't find a really good pastrami sandwich I like in Bergen County. I think Benny's in Fair Lawn is "pretty good" -- but the Kosher Nosh is better. You get a "bigger" sandwich at Benny's, but the pastrami at the KN in my opinion is better, tastier

Thank you in advance.

You don't count Hobby's in Newark as North Jersey?

 

https://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/nj-dining-hobbys-delicatessen/

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Interesting point and very observant about the rye bread. So, just my personal taste(s), but I find when you get a "substantial" pastrami sandwich -- a very good amount of meat, temperature, texture, piled, etc. -- the rye bread can be an issue. Yes, I think too soft vs. "substantial" coupled with some "chew" can be an issue. I've seen a few places cut the rye bread "thicker" and if there's a lot of meat, et al, then that could work. But you don't want "too much" bread. Fine line? Perhaps. I don't like "thin" slices of rye bread, nor bread that is too soft. If it is either of those -- it can get too "mushy" and compressed, and just fall apart. I like some substance to the rye bread, maybe cut a bit thicker, and so that it can "hold" the sandwich -- both together, and so that there is a good balance.

 

Agree that this is a MAJOR problem. It is such a huge pity that the legendary Katz's is totally on the wrong side of this.

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ELA, the pleasure was ours.

Well, thank you...actually, as I've said, personally, for my likes, taste, etc. -- I don't think there are any "very good" Kosher or Kosher-style deli's in Northern NJ, EXCEPT for Eppes Essen and the Kosher Nosh. That said, the Kosher Nosh is very close to me (my office, and not "that far" from where I live) and given it's the best around me, I have no problem driving 15 minutes or so even if I was home. I've been to all of the deli's in Bergen County, and I think the Kosher Nosh is "the best of an average at best" bunch -- and I just can't find a really good pastrami sandwich I like in Bergen County. I think Benny's in Fair Lawn is "pretty good" -- but the Kosher Nosh is better. You get a "bigger" sandwich at Benny's, but the pastrami at the KN in my opinion is better, tastier

Thank you in advance.

You don't count Hobby's in Newark as North Jersey?

 

https://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/nj-dining-hobbys-delicatessen/

 

 

Yes, I would count Newark/Hobby's as North Jersey (for the most part -- here comes the North, South, Central debate again, LOL, although this is not really up for debate, LOL). However, Hobby's is not that Kosher, Kosher-style, etc., style of deli of course. Excellent pastrami -- without question! One of my favorites. Whenever I have the chance, business, pleasure, etc. -- I go to Hobby's.

 

Yes, if it's just pastrami, for me -- I rate Hobby's up there. But if I am looking for the meal -- kasha varnishkes, potato pancakes, knish, maybe some egg or mushroom barley, that kind of food -- then I am going to Eppes Essen. Thanks.

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Does anyone know who makes the rye bread for Hobby's, Eppes, etc? I know Pechter bakeries used to do (and may still do) a lot of kosher-style supply before they were purchased by Bottiglia Brothers. They also do a huge amount of hot dog roll business.

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