Greg Abes grew up in Westchester County, near New York City, and has fond memories of going into town with his dad for deli lunches, where, as he says on his Web site, "the sandwiches were so big they were hard to finish."
Abes is doing his level best to recreate that childhood experience in Indianapolis with his new eatery, Stanley's New York Deli.
The Greenbriar shopping plaza is a far cry from the Bronx, but folks on the Northside with an appetite for corned beef or pastrami, not to mention potato latkes and knishes ($2.95 and $2.99, respectively), noodle kugel ($3.99) or a bowl of Matzo Ball soup ($3.99) are likely to find Stanley's arrival a cause for celebration.
The space, bright and modern, with the requisite, wall-mounted flat screen TVs, is pleasant, if a bit generic. When we stopped by last week for lunch, we chose to sit outside on the deck.
Stanley's has plenty of off-menu surprises -- lox spread, peppered salmon, packaged corn chowder and cabbage rolls were all in evidence on the day we visited. Ultimately, though, this place is about sandwiches. Unless you know what you want going in, you're likely to find yourself reading through an extensive menu of well-stacked creations with roots that extend out to cities like Cleveland and Chicago.
In fact, my companion ordered The Clevelander ($8.99), an assemblage consisting of oven roasted turkey breast, imported Swiss cheese, homemade coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing on light rye, served with crackling crisp homemade potato chips and a pickle spear. The serving size was sufficient, but not overpowering, the ingredients fresh and those chips were a definite bonus.
The same could be said about my sandwich, the Yankee Doodle Dandy, a combination of finely cut medium-rare roast beef, Wisconsin cheddar, horseradish sauce, lettuce and tomato, also on light rye. I ordered this with half the meat ($6.99) and it was plenty.
A side note: I'm sure I'm not the only one who, upon finding horseradish on a list of ingredients, looks forward to a head-clearing haymaker or, at least, a devilish left hook. This is a sensation that's made St. Elmo's famous. In most local cases, though, including my sandwich at Stanley's, the horseradish punch is pulled. My advice is, use it, lose it - or serve it on the side.
We couldn't resist splitting an order of Stanley's Reuben Rolls ($4.99), a half-dozen egg rolls filled with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, served with a side of Thousand Island dressing. Here's a guilty pleasure alert. These beauties were born to be devoured with something ice-cold and locally brewed. And they're deep-fried in olive oil, so consider them health food!
Stanley's serves breakfast; bagels are available all day until they're gone and there's a Challah French Toast ($5.99) that seems like a particularly good idea.
If you've ever eaten at a New York deli, you know the service can be, shall we say, brusque? Not at Stanley's. Maybe it's just that they've only been open a couple of months, but Gary, the guy who brought us our order, made us feel like old friends. Even better, when we asked the cashier if we could have our drinks in something other than non-recyclable Styrofoam, she not only made it happen, she thanked us
for the request.