Our Father's Deli [Allston, MA]


#1

I went there with a few elderly relatives tonight, and the restaurant is thankfully not too crowded or overly loud at around 7:30. The service is efficient, the waitress was still a little rusty with the menu items and had to go ask for clarification at one point. The gin menu is impressive, and they had quite a few interesting house soda - the grapefruit shrub was tasty and I would definitely get it again. DH had a gin cocktail that he enjoyed as well.

That said, the food is just meh and not as delicatessen-y as I would like, if that makes sense at all? We got a few small places to share (Israeli salad, charred eggplant, and a cheese/spinach pastry thingy) and a few mazo ball soup, and the portions are pretty small/tiny for vegetable mezze. We got individual large plates (pastrami sandwich, za’atar salmon, duck breast, challah crusted cod) as well, and the portions are more reasonable. Some of the a la carte sides are interesting (tahdig?!), but we didn’t get the chance to try.

I like the liberal use of spices (dukkah and za’atar aplenty), and the eggplant is nicely charred and smoky, yet everything from the small plates to the main dishes, feels SO salty. Is this just a chefy gimmick to get more flavor out of a dish by throwing sodium at it? The challah crusted cod was an interesting concept - it seems to have a layer of buttery dough directly baked on top of the fish, but the mussel broth and the sauteed greens was so salty that I had to eat around it.

The older New Yorkers in attendance liked their dishes enough, but also complained about this place looking nothing like a delicatessen, and I think that’s my problem with this place as well. The takeout wing with the sandwich offering is sorta like a deli, but the restaurant side seems more like a Mediterranean fusion place with some Jewish elements thrown in, and the Jewish dishes don’t seem very good either, e.g. pastrami comes shredded instead of slices - why? (Oh, and their fish plate claims to use OMG bagels - at least have the decency to source a good local bagel; they are not that difficult to find!)

If it’s old school delicatessen fare executed with skill and confidence you are looking for, go across the river to Mamaleh’s - you won’t be able to find it at Our Father’s. We certainly won’t be going back unless we just want some gin drinks.


#2

thanks @sunnyday for taking one for the team on this place!!


#3

that was my first impression when looking at the menu. I expected something quite different with the name deli. that said, we do enjoy Yarm’s cocktails, so we will try at some point for that reason. @frederic have you moved on completely from Loyal Nine?


#4

Right - and I think I was expecting deli fares with a twist and perhaps some Sephardic dishes promised in the write-up and was sorely disappointed. That said, the cocktail/soda we had were the best parts of our meal, so our compliment to @frederic for those!


(Frederic Yarm) #5

I am no longer associated with Loyal Nine (although some of my drinks are still on the menu). I am part of the program at OFD but I’d have to point much of the delicious credit to our beverage manager Kayla Quigley who set up the program.

From what I understand of the restaurant’s history is that the idea started with deli, and yes, there is a takeout deli associated with the restaurant that has been doing quite well (open morning to early evening right now). When they found our chef, he had a lot of experience in Sephardic and modern Israeli cooking and they expanded the concept to read Our Fathers Deli, Bar, and Restaurant. There is still Ashkenazi offerings on the menu by way of the “All Day” menu that carries on from the deli. People seemed really happy with the chicken noodle/matza ball soup last night form that section especially given the weather. The pastrami and corned beef got ordered a bit at the bar (one guest wished that there were more sandwich items).

Sorry if you found the food salty. It wasn’t my experience when I sampled the menu on other nights, but was instead bright and interestingly spiced to my palate. The reaction from the dining bar guests was that they’d be back again.


#6

Thanks for sharing your insights! I understand how much work goes into running into a restaurant, and I’m just as disappointed with ourselves that our experience wasn’t good - we have been looking forward to the opening for a long time.

Perhaps I’m just salty (literally) that we were expecting a delicatessen experience and got something else, perhaps we should have waited a little longer till all the kinks were worked out, but I do stand by what I said earlier, and our party have ordered plenty of dishes of l so it’s not like we didn’t try. But again, the drinks are wonderful (much like our experience at Loyal Nine in the past - hope they can keep up your good work) so those are honestly the only things I’d come back for.


#7

I had completely forgotten @sunnyday’s review of Our Fathers and having recently read MC Slim JB’s review went for Saturday brunch one day and had a knockout pastrami on rye with excellent fries and house-made pickles as well as a cup of very good matzo ball soup. I also had the grapefruit shrub which was delicious and refreshing and a really wonderful cup of coffee. Encouraged by this I have since returned for both brunch and a couple of dinners, and since my dinners included DCs who like to share have now had a substantial portion of the menu, most of which I liked a lot and none of which was overly salty – so that has been fixed. I think a lot of other things have been as well since sunnyday’s review and I thank her again for taking one for the team in the early days.

The brunch menu has a lot of deli-type items, including pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, matzo ball soup, bagels with various topping and some egg dishes. In addition to the pastrami I have had the bagel with whitefish salad which was the weakest offering I have had there – the bagel was not high quality and suffered from having been served closed up in paper wrapping – cute concept but made the bagel soggy. Coffee and grapefruit shrub have been consistently wonderful. The pastrami is not as fatty as the pastrami at Moody’s Deli and also differently spiced with less of the warm spices that Moody’s uses. It is served in thickish batons which are pleasantly chewy.

The dinner menu is not deli-like, I think it aims for modern Israeli in the style (maybe) of Ottolenghi. There are lots of small plates with an emphasis on vegetables which makes me very happy as another place to go with vegetarian friends. For dinner, I have shared the labne with radishes, schug and zaatar (outstanding), hummus with salatim (very good), cauliflower steak with kale chermoula (outstanding, ordered twice), fried brussels sprouts with Aleppo vinaigrette (wonderful), potato brik with harissa, egg, preserved lemon, parsley (wonderfully spicy potato and the rest in thin crispy hot pastry, we devoured it), spinach bourekas (good but overshadowed by the potato brik, would not order both at same time), falafel on gem lettuce with tomatoes and feta (tasty but the lettuce was quite wilted), lamb tartare with apple, horseradish, mint, urfa pepper (very good but quite mildly spiced compared with other things), and from the large plates section the pan-roasted duck breast with amba braised cabbage and blistered tomato (melt-in-your-mouth tender and succulent). You can also get pastrami and corned beef sandwiches at dinner.

Service has been uniformly pleasant. It is a bit spendy but I have never felt ripped off. I think a lot of care goes into the food. I am looking forward to taking a vegetarian friend there for a celebration dinner soon. It has never been crowded when I have been there but they do take reservations which is nice when you are planning a celebratory event.


#8

We took away some food from here a few days ago. Inspired by Jolyon Helterman’s poem to their pastrami in Boston Magazine we got the pastrami sandwich, plus their turkey sandwich and some humus. The pastrami was, as Helterman says, beautifully fatty and tender, but it wasn’t as smoky as I’d have liked. There could also have been a more liberal use of mustard. The turkey sandwich was well constructed with avocado and sprouts. The humus was a big disappointment though: fizzy from either having fermented or from the overuse of baking soda in the chickpea soaking. We tossed it.


#9

Bummer about the hummus. How do you like the pastrami compared to Moody’s? I prefer it (slightly) because for me Moody’s has a somewhat heavy hand on the warm spices (not that I would ever turn it down you understand).


#10

Interesting question: I have only carried out bulk pastrami from Moody’s, not had them make me a sandwich. They slice their pastrami thin (as does Mamaleh’s), and that makes for a completely different experience. It’s hard to make a head-to-head (or fat-to-fat?) comparison.

Our Father’s pastrami (or is it “Our Father’s’s pastrami”?)~- like Katz’s or Mile End in NYC – is hand cut into thick slices (slabs almost). It allows your teeth to sink into a soft, melting mass of fat and lean. If I were forced to choose, I’d give this style the nod.

The thin-cut style has its uses – and I certainly would not pass up a sandwich in that style (the old Carnegie Deli version, back when the Deli (a) existed, and (b) was good, was like that) – but the textural differences swamp for me the taste differences. We did make ourselves a sandwich from Moody’s pastrami, but I can’t say I noticed that it was “warmer” than Our Father’s. It (Moody’s) did warm up nicely though (with crisp edges) for pastrami and eggs for breakfast.


#11

Oh, we’ll have to give Our Father’s pastrami a try. I loved my Katz’ thick-sliced sandwich from a couple of years ago.

Carnegie still seems to be doing a retail business. I bought some at Marty’s Liquors in Newton a few months back. They also sell (or sold) Carnegie’s corned beef. I like both styles, but agree that there is something particularly luscious about the thick, juicy and tender style.


#12

Carnegie’s main store on 7th ave closed a year or two ago, but they still distribute their meats (and I believe you can buy them online) and, I think, have a couple of outpost locations that are open. But their pastrami took a turn to the lean several years ago, and was no longer something I enjoyed. (There are several other options in NYC, beyond Katz’s and the Montreal-style Mile End: 2nd Ave deli, Sarge’s, etc.)


#13

ooh, I love this style. I have a post work event happy hour thing at Our Father’s in a couple weeks. I am def. going to try this out.

Supposedly Katz’s does mail order for their pastrami now. Not sure it would be the same without getting a taste first and the worrying the whole time you’re eating that you’re gonna lose that stupid ticket you need to get out.


#14

Yes, it’s the worry that gives Katz’s pastrami that edge. Pastrami just doesn’t taste the same without some accompanying anxiety.


#15

I tried the pastrami today, with perhaps over inflated hopes. While it was moist I found it to be somewhat lacking flavor. To compare Our Father’s pastrami to Katz’s makes me think the author has never actually been to Katz’s. As with much of the media in these days, it seems that this was written more for clicks than to convey useful information.


#16

When I had it (the one time described above), it was not as smoky as I might have wanted. For me, that was the main flavor defect – but perhaps you noticed others. I agree that Katz’s is clearly superior (as is the very smoky “smoked meat” at Mile End).

Oddly, I was swimming in the Blodgett Pool till 11 today and was very hungry when I surfaced. I sat in the car and thought “Hmm – pastrami sandwich from Our Father’s, or something healthy from the Harvard farmers market.” I chose the latter, and ate half a blueberry bread from Ward’s instead.


#17

Sounds familiar. Welcome to my life!

I’d rather have a Pastrami Traveler from Sam LaGrassa than the Our Father’s sandwich. I know it’s not house made pastrami, but the overall sandwich is so much more satisfying to me. I will be in NYC later this week, and now thinking I may need the real McCoy.


#18

It is one of my great sorrows that Sam LaGrassa is only open M-F and I work in the 'burbs. I have only managed to get in there twice but sure was happy when I did!


#19

I foolishly ate a giant roast pork sandwich for lunch at HBS which negated my ability to eat a pastrami sandwich for dinner at Our Fathers but I can report that they make a killer Last Word cocktail and the gin selection is top notch.


#20

We gave Our Father’s a shot for brunch this weekend, and it’s permanently off the list. An extremely disappointing dining experience in every way.

Even though the dining room is fairly small and wasn’t full, they were apparently in the weeds. Our drink order got taken immediately. However, the drinks took a while to come and we got “be right back to take your order” twice. As for the drink it was one of the worst bloody mary’s I’ve had in recent memory. I only had a few sips, and my wife didn’t want it either. The consistency was so chunky as to clog the straw, and flavor was not balanced at all. Also, there didn’t seem to be any vodka in the drink. Hey though, they stuck a chunk of their pastrami on the toothpick so let’s all ooh and ahh.

Once we finally did order, the food took forever to come out. From the time we sat it was nearly an hour before any food hit the table. As for the food itself the beet and eggplant, small plates had good flavor and being our first bites, we weren’t yet fatigued by their one note strategy to dump zaatar spice on every dish. The dishes were very small, with the beet dish coming with 2 small beet chips for dipping.

After another 20-minute wait between the small dishes and next courses out came my wife’s pastrami Rachel, followed 5 minutes later by my toast with poached eggs (for which the fries would be right out). The “poached eggs” were the consistency of a well-done hard-boiled egg. I looked at the table next to ours as the woman next to me laughed as she showed me an identical egg. The waitress offered to bring us both another egg about 10 minutes later when she noticed the dishes untouched. One bite of the soggy toast confirmed that I had at least been blessed with yet more zaatar spice. As for the pastrami I warned my wife I had found it underwhelming when I tried it from their take-out shop. It was actually worse than I remembered, bone dry and largely flavorless. My wife actually took most of the meat off to get a sandwich with more moisture and flavor from the cheese, slaw and Russian dressing. The food writer who compared this pastrami to Katzs really should be ashamed. Anyway, those fries never did quite make out of the kitchen. We asked for the check with my dish left untouched and the sandwich half eaten, and beat it out of there never to return.

I have no idea what this place is trying to be, or perhaps they just don’t care and are content to drain the wallets of the tenants in the apartments above them. Anyway, it was awful food and service by and standard, but considering the price point even more shameful. We do seem to be getting more and more poor value restaurants like this. Maybe it is another sign the economy may be overheated and in need of a breather.

I hate to post this but it was well earned.