In the Jan. 17 issue of The Guide, we deemed Canter’s overrated. The owner was not happy and invited us to a meal. Rather than be treated specially, the Glutton made a visit without fanfare, and came away reminded that a good restaurant isn’t solely defined by its food, especially when the restaurant in question has dazzling, autumnal ceiling tiles. And staying open 24/7-- say, for a kibitz over a bourbon and ginger in the Kibitz Room -- goes a long way toward improving any restaurant’s appeal. But as a New York Jewish deli, Canter’s is about as bona fide as Madonna’s British accent.
The Glutton sticks to the sandwiches, especially the corned beef and the pastrami, which induce a decent meat coma. But Canter’s stock in trade -- the array of Jewish deli food -- mostly makes her sad. Nigh-stale bread; dense, rock-hard, baseball-sized matzo balls; bland brisket; kreplach that’s bone-dry despite floating in broth.
Deli food deserves better. When the Glutton wants pastrami, she heads to Langer’s (MacArthur Park) or the Hat. When she wants matzo balls, blintzes or scrambled lox and eggs, she heads to Nate ‘n Al (Beverly Hills). When she’s up all night on the Westside, she heads to Izzy’s. That’s the difference between an institution and a restaurant. You visit one, you eat at the other.