Sandwich: Peppered Beef on Rye at Deli Station. 1516 State St., Racine, Wisconsin

Update: Deli Station is closed

Deli Station closed in late January, 2010. See the Journal Times story
and the LTHForum.com discussion for more information.

You can now get a delicious Peppered Beef sandwich in Racine, Wisconsin. The Corned Beef is just as good, possibly even better. You should also be able to get some great pastrami, but that was not available to us yesterday evening.

We saw a Journal Times story about Racine’s new Deli Station sandwich shop that ran this past week, and apparently a lot of other Racinians did too, because owner Gal Friedwald experienced a near stampede of business on Saturday after a comparatively quiet three and a half weeks of operation. He went through ten briskets in just two hours, and those briskets take over three hours to cook. Deli Station was sold out of pastrami by the time we showed up at 4:30 p.m.

No problem. We switched to the Corned Beef and Peppered Beef.

That Journal Times article had really piqued our curiosity, not only because of the story of Friedwald’s service in Israel’s Special Forces and his subsequent return to the United States to establish a business, but also because we would previously drive all the way to Burt’s Deli in Libertyville (see also the LTHForum thread) to enjoy the kind of Jewish comfort foods that New Yorkers take for granted. To prepare for Deli Station, we rewatched the Katz’s Deli segment from Anthony Bourdain’s “Disappearing Manhattan” show.

Deli Station. 1516 State St., Racine, Wisconsin

Deli Station (1516 State St., 262-634-8001) occupies a small store in a central Racine strip center anchored by a Save-A-Lot supermarket. There are three small tables, plus six additional seats at the counters along the front window.

Friedwald obtained his menu from Michigan’s Bread Basket Deli shops. It’s a menu that centers on sandwiches in two sizes — a regular sandwich that includes 10 ounces of meat, and a junior sandwich with six ounces. Choices include Corned Beef, Pastrami, Peppered Beef, Roast Brisket of Beef, Pickled Tongue, Breast of Turkey, Turkey Pastrami, Baked Ham, hard or soft Salami, Chopped Liver, Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad, Egg Salad, and Grilled Cheese. Regular sandwiches are generally priced at at about $8.25, and juniors at $6.25. Bread can be rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat, or white.

Add another dollar or so, and you can select from Deli Station favorites like the Reuben, Turkey Reuben, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. There is also a good roster of triple decker sandwiches and combinations on rye, such as Pastrami with Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing. The assortment of sides consists of fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, French fried mushrooms, potato salad, potato pancakes, cole slaw, sauerkraut, or green salad. Pints or quarts of three soups are also available — Mushroom Barley, Chicken Broth with Noodles, and Chicken Broth with Matzo Ball.

My regular Peppered Beef sandwich on rye with brown mustard was delicious. The meat was hot and tender, sliced nice and thin and piled high between two sturdy slices of the wonderful Bread Basket rye. As Amy observed, a good sandwich begins with good bread, and the bread at Deli Station seemed like better stuff than we had seen served to Anthony Bourdain in New York. My beef was lean and expertly cooked and slightly salty with outstanding flavor.

Ten ounces turns out to be a heck of a lot of meat, and I agree with owner Gal Friedwald that eating half a regular and taking the other half home would be a good idea. I have not been so stuffed with meat since Steve Dahl held a staff dinner at Fogo de Chão.

Sandwich: Corned Beef and Swiss Cheese with Cole Slaw and Mustard at Deli Station, Racine, Wisconsin

Perhaps I should make clear that in both sandwich photos on this page, only half of each sandwich is shown.

Amy, who was quite hungry, had already taken a big bite of her junior Corned Beef and Swiss Cheese with Cole Slaw and Mustard before I could even get my camera out. Although a junior, it was still a hefty sandwich with six ounces of meat.The corned beef had more tasty fat and a bit less salt than the peppered beef, with the wonderful melt-in-your-mouth texture that comes from gently breaking down the meat through long, slow cooking. Deli Station meats are prepared on-site.

Each sandwich came with two crisp pickle spears. I added a potato pancake as a side, and it was incredible — lightly crispy on the outside, with a soft potato center and a gentle onion flavor. Gal Friedwald told us that he learned the recipe and technique from his mother, and this latke certainly tasted like a homemade treasure.

Display case at Deli Station, Racine, Wisconsin

We accompanied our sandwiches with cans of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, the traditional beverage of delis in New York and South Florida, sold from the refrigerated case at the front of the store. For dessert, we took home some cheesecake, being too full to enjoy it after our meal.

Deli Station has been in operation less than a month and is still securing a few of its menu items, but the sandwiches are succulent, authentic, and reasonably priced, and the place is an exciting new option for Racine’s food lovers. The shop is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and should quickly become a lunchtime favorite.

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