Saturday, March 07, 2009

Attman's Deli on Baltimore's Corned Beef Row

When we were talking about what to do this weekend Chris made one iron-clad declaration. "I want a corned beef sandwich from Attman's." Having never been to Attman's (1019 E Lombard Street, Baltimore) but always up for some good corned beef, I agreed with this course of action. So after working on taxes and getting some client work done we headed down to Baltimore's Corned Beef Row (gotta love that) and headed to Attman's, which has been around since 1915 and has been named one of the Ten Best Delis in the country.

I knew we were in good shape when we reached the door and the line stretched from the cashier by the front door all the way down the deli case, past the pickles and pickled tomatoes, barbecued ribs, onion rings, western fries, chubs, salads, knockwurst, hot dogs and more.

Signs behind the counter, which look like they haven't been updated in about 40 years, proclaim the availability of sandwiches like Bye Bye Black Bread (Liverwurst, Roast Beef, Swiss, Lettuce & Russian Dressing on Black Bread) and Italian Stallion (Italian Salami, Baked Ham, Provolone, Lettuce, Tomato and Special Seasonings). I also noticed the only place other than Zack's where I've seen a hot dog offered with a slice of grilled bologna on top (perhaps the origin of the Baltimore Dog?).

But it was the siren song of corned beef that had drawn us here and it was corned beef we would have.

Chris opted for the Hot Corned Beef and Swiss on rye while I went with "The Original" Cloak and Dagger, a blend of Corned Beef, Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing also on rye. I've never researched the origins of the Cloak and Dagger and actually never even knew about it until a couple years ago when I saw a sign for one on a Royal Farms store. Ordering it made me feel sorta like a spy and the fact that the menu touts it as "The Original" made me feel even more special.

We topped off the sandwiches with some Dirty All Natural Potato Chips, but in retrospect I could have skipped them. Not that they weren't good, but had I only had a sandwich I might have given in to the temptation to get a second order to go.

While plenty of places try to earn their rep with gargantuan piles of deli meats or by putting fries on their sandwiches, Attman's lets the food do the talking. The corned beef is literally melt in your mouth delicious, nothing chewy or fatty about it... just excellent meat topped with just enough slaw and dressing to add some creaminess to the sandwich but not so much that it made the bread soggy or sandwich unmanageable. (Unlike this review of a non-original Cloak & Dagger from Eddie's of Roland Park.) And excellent bread it is, a nice departure from the chewy, dry rye you get in some places where you feel like you're literally fighting with your food.

The shop's personalities behind the counter certainly adds to the liveliness of the joint, as does the clientele. One couple that came into the dining room after us sat down, said grace (something you just don't see that often), and drank their beers as they munched and debated the amount of gratuitous sex in HBO's ROME (he seemed to be against it).

And while I wouldn't normally bother to remark on what soda I drank (as I rarely drink the stuff), I have to say that Attman's also introduced me to a new favorite root beer! Pappy's Homemade Root Beer, a locally made, sweet and naturally carbonated concoction that made the perfect accompaniment to an excellent sandwich.

Alas, the picture of my sandwich taken with my phone does not do it justice. Maybe I should go back and take some more...?

Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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