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Food & Drink

Drew’s finding its way around the deli

Photo: Veronica Luna, License: N/A

Veronica Luna

A fully loaded Reuben sandwich from Drew’s American Grill.

Drew’s has recently risen from the ashes of the late Watermark Grill. What, you didn’t know there had been a fire? I’m speaking metaphorically, but apparently the building’s middle-of-the-night-type abandonment left a litany of problems in its wake, occasioning expenses well beyond the visible reupholstering, the new lighting, and the painting. Always handsome, the space now glows, especially at night.

The warmth continues with the hospitality of the owner, Drew Glick, and his pleasant staff. Glick, who arrived from New York to do “maybe a little deli,” still seems shell-shocked at what has evolved — menu included. Some elements of classic New York deli are at the kernel of that menu, but the chef and sous chef Glick recruited at a Waldorf Astoria property in Orlando have not let tradition stand in the way. The result is a document that won’t make the jaded foodie’s heart beat quicker, but talent and creativity lurk beneath the surface.

Talent and creativity are a good base, but they can also occasionally act as blinders. Take the grilled dolmas. This is a case where the usually superfluous quotation marks might actually be justifiable, as the dolmas are inspired by the original, subbing swiss chard for grape leaves and goat cheese and marcona almonds for rice. Sounds great and tastes good, too, with a roasted red pepper coulis adding both visual and taste-contrast appeal. The problem is in the “grilling.” On a round of the dining room, the chef explained that he really just heated the rolls a little on the grill to create a cool-warm contrast, but the fact is that it doesn’t work; expectations suggest something thoroughly warm—even charred, but by the time the plate arrives any warmth has dissipated. The accessory fried lemon slices also sound promising, but mine were merely bitter.

The name is the only issue with a salad labeled “Roasted Baby Beets.” Yes, there are roasted beets in the mix, but they are hardly the dominant factor in a beautifully balanced blend that includes arugula, frisée, candied red onion, and more in just enough delicate sherry vinaigrette. Unmet expectations aside, this is one of the best salads currently in circulation.

My expectations regarding pastrami and other icons of the deli demimonde come from living five years in Manhattan, but this hardly makes me the maven with the mostest creds. Glick does, however, make a big deal out of his “imported” deli products, and has contracted to ship in his pastrami, corned beef, dogs, pickles, and even sauerkraut by the almost-ton. Everything else is made in-house, including the rye for the Reuben, and here I will go out on a limb and suggest they nailed it. I’m less convinced by the pastrami which, though makes a pretty good sandwich, would be better yet served messier/lustier, and by a kraut which arrives pristine and is fiddled with to make it more Reuben-esque. Strikes me that it would be a better contrast to the meat in a less-fiddled state; the pickles are perfect, however; the house cole slaw lacks any real flavor.

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