The Jewish delicatessen has long occupied a comfortably cosseted space in gastronomic popular culture, evoking as it does impressions of big servings of protein-rich and carb-heavy platters served in an equally homey setting.
In many ways, the newly opened Monty’s Deli cleaves close to that ideal, not the least of which is its name, which almost springs right off a ‘Seinfeld’ episode.
Architects Dan Marks Studio have imbued an old bakery in London’s East End with a comforting mix of old and new – the slick counter and banquette seats are perfectly set off by black and white harlequin floor tiles, globe lamps, linoleum tables and faded remnants of the original Victorian tiled walls.
As with any delicatessen worth its salt, the best seats in the house are on the high stools at the counter, watching the line cooks carve whole joints of hot pastrami and salt beef onto rye bread slathered with mustard and pickles, and bagels baked on hessian wrapped cedar planks. If there is a slight sense of dislocation, it’s not just because the setting is so perfectly judged, but also because owner Mark Ogus is an American who cut his teeth, as it were, on Jewish delis across the pond and so, knows his latkes from his cholents.
An unexpected bonus is that Monty’s serves a Shabbat dinner every night comprising chopped liver, challah, chicken soup and lokshen. Oy vey.