In late 2012, a massive fire ravaged Murray Hill institution Sarge's Delicatessen. Over a year later, the restaurant is back open, with all the deli fare it has been serving for half a century.
Few Jewish delis serve kreplach anymore—the doughy beef dumpling is on the verge of New York deli extinction. So it's a relief that Sarge's kept theirs on the menu, especially because it's so good. In the Old Fashioned Chicken Consomme with Kreplach ($6.95), the cloudy soup (definitely not a consomme) is just what you want: fatty with a strong chicken flavor, emboldened by sweet onion, dill, and black pepper. The single kreplach is thick and doughy, the chewy skin wrapped around a rich, onion-sweetened filling.
You can also get your kreplach deep fried ($8.95) with some wisps of caramelly onions, a good complement to the dumplings. As it turns out they're crisper than the kreplach, which soften beneath their crust fast. They're still enjoyable in a grease-bomb way, but aren't really an improvement over the boiled versions in the soup.
At Sarge's you'll also find gimmicks like the Deli Wellington—corned beef, pastrami, and mashed potato in puff pastry—but the whole isn't better than the sum of its parts. You're better off with a tender, fatty pastrami sandwich, one of the best in this part of town.
As more and more delis fall out of New York's restaurant world, it's exciting to see one come back just as strong. Murray Hill has changed over the years, but Sarge's is ready to take all comers.
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