Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florida, pt 2: The Lucky Dill

While in Florida, I got to eat* at one of my old favorite spots when I lived there: The Lucky Dill. A New York style deli right in Palm Harbor of all places.

Inside, they have photos of various famous places in NY smothering the walls, while the customers are jammed in just a couple feet from one another...sitting asshole to elbow is truly reminiscent of New York, at least to me. There is a bakery in house, and the case you see just as you walk in is filled with enticing treats: several varieties of cheesecakes, cannolis, cookies, brownies, and more. And at 5pm, as we found, the restaurant is completely filled with old people; an absolute sea of white hair. As an old friend would say, "it smells like death in here!"

I think my only complaint, other than lack of ambiance, is that they have far too many menus. Upon seating, you receive no less than 3: a special menu, breakfast menu, and regular menu. All of them are oversized and cumbersome at the little tables. But no matter, at that point you usually see a waitress walk by with a sandwich containing what can't be less than a pound of amazing looking deli meat, and you forget about how awkward all the menus are.

Not for the caloric conscious, when you order a drink and sandwich, a cup of soup and a slice of cheesecake are free. My father decided to indulge (congrats, dad! minus 105lbs and counting!), the free soup of the day was a delicious matzo ball, while I had one of the best tomato bisques I think I've ever had. Topped with scallions, it had a kick to it that seemed to come from fire roasted tomatoes and possibly the addition of cayenne as well. Yum. My father got the reuben sandwich, which made me wish I was hungry enough to get a sandwich too: piles of corned beef around a layer of sauerkraut, all between two slices of buttered and toasted rye bread. It looked like it was roughly the size of my head. Now that is a sandwich.

Not to be outdone, the cheesecake with raspberry sauce we shared stood on its own: excellent texture and flavor, and great crust that had a little bit of toasted coconut on the outside. A million times better than the cheesecake at my school (what the hell kind of culinary school chooses to do cheesecake without a graham cracker crust, just a thin layer of vanilla sponge cake?? and then pile every type of fruit onto it, even grapes??).

Come to think of it, I went to high school with the son of the owners of The Lucky Dill and he was in the process of learning how to run it. The family owned one other restaurant nearby, called Molly Goodheads. I went there once and vaguely remember really good crapcakes. Kudos to them for putting out good food for what is hopefully many years to come.

*To be honest, we tried to go to our old truly favorite place, called McCabe's Cafe. It saddens me to say that they are no longer in business.

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