Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
For Reuben's Sake: The Linkery
I was in North Park buying art supplies and wondering what to have for lunch when I stopped in my tracks.
Bad spelling, good sandwich
Reuben Tuesday? I like Reubens, a lot. I need to check this out. The Linkery, 3794 30th St. (at North Park Way), has made a batch of house-cured, grass fed corned beef, and they're making Reuben sandwiches with it. They do this "every month or three". I get that. I've "corned" brisket before, and I've made my own sauerkraut. It isn't difficult, but it takes a lot of time and space in your refrigerator and kitchen. I figure, this is going to be a bit of a spendy lunch, but quality ingredients cost.
It's been a while since I've been to the Linkery. I'd heard that they remodeled, and it's an improvement. The dark booths in the back are gone, and the place looks brighter and more open.
My server brings a menu, and beer/wine list, and asks if I'm there for Reuben Tuesday. Their website says that they usually sell out of this special. I order it, and a Green Flash Little Freak ($7), a saison/farmhouse style that's light and perfect for lunch.
I look over the regular menu while I wait for my sandwich. I'm glad to see that they've removed the long descriptions of ingredients in every single item in favor of a "Linkipedia" on the back side of the page. I'll confess to misreading the words "pastured chicken" as "pasteurized chicken" on my first visit and thinking "Wha-a-t??" Simpler is better. Those of us who like to read about how our burger is made from beef that's been massaged with rose oil by seven virgins on the second Tuesday of the dark moon will still have our food geek fix, but those who don't care won't be annoyed by all the extra descriptives.
My sandwich arrives, with a large helping of fresh, house made potato chips and green tomato pickles. The anticipatory look on my face makes my server laugh, and after a brief description of my food, she says, "Dig in!" I do, believe me, I do. It's served open faced style on beer bread, with sauerkraut (Suzie's Farm organic cabbage), thousand island dressing, and Pt. Reyes Toma cheese. The bread, sauerkraut and dressing are all made in-house. It's well-toasted to a dark, caramelized brown, and the pieces of corned beef that are sticking out are crispy and blackened like burnt ends.
I can taste allspice, coriander and black peppercorn in my first bite. This is nothing like those corned beef vacuum packs that appear in the grocery around St. Patrick's Day. It's not overly salty, it's not at all fatty, and the beef flavor comes through. There's an ample amount of it too. There's just enough sauerkraut to add a pickle-y crunch, and the dressing lends a rich, tangy-sweet touch. The Pt. Reyes Toma is a semi hard, farmstead cows’ milk cheese with a creamy texture, buttery flavor, and a grassy-sharp finish. There's not too much or too little of anything. The chips are crunchy and salty good, and the green tomato pickles are tart, spicy, meaty little bites.
The best part of this is that it's well done. I don't mean done well, I mean cooked deep, deep brown. I'm the one who always picks the dark chips out of the bag, I set my toasted marshmallows on fire, and if the popcorn picks up a bit of char in the pan, I'm in heaven. This sandwich is right in my sweet spot, dark brown without a hint of burned taste.
So, back to the spendy part. The sandwich is $15.50. That's a lot for a sandwich. Is it worth that much?
Yes, a thousand times, yes.
3794 30th Street
San Diego CA 92104
Monday - Wednesday - 11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Thursday, Friday - 11:30am - 12:00 am
Saturday - 12:00 pm - 12:00 am
Sunday - 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Free street parking. Credit cards accepted.
Need to know: The Linkery adds an 18% gratuity to all bills. This seems to irritate some folks. I figure, they're saving me the hassle of calculating percentages in my head.
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