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half emptyLunch with Louie at the Bitterman’s Deli
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic

Mar 30, 9:32 PM (PT)
By Louie

It’s Lunch with Louie day, but after a little trouble at the DMV, Ed and the dedicated staff went off to Mammoth for a little skiing leaving me with the not so pleasant task of having lunch all by myself. Its lunch with Louie, and having lunch with myself is not depressing enough, its also root canal day. I am having one of my upper molars drilled, poked, scraped, pushed, filed and filled for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I have three canals to be navigated and explored, and I am an extremely unhappy person. All my gourmet aspirations, truffles and foie gras dreams are gone. I am in desperate need of some comfort food.

What I need is some good home made Jewish chicken soup with plenty of fat swimming on the top and with the implicit guarantee of curing any malady or depression known to man or beast. But where in this town can you find such a thing? I called my honey for help and was quickly informed of a Jewish deli called Bitterman’s. It is right behind Paseo Nuevo on Canon Perdido.

Bitterman's is a small place with the menu written on green chalkboards on the wall. It also has a TV set that continuously plays Seinfeld episodes. Not a bad idea.

The menu is so extensive it will take you forever to go through the whole thing. So in a way I was lucky. I knew what I wanted. I went to the order section of the small counter and what do I find? Well, the Jewish deli had gone International - two ladies from the Far East were taking orders and two south of the border brothers were doing the cooking (not that there is anything wrong with it).

I asked the lady if she had chicken soup. She quickly responded, “What, you crazy? This is Jewish deli. Of course we have chicken soup, best chicken soup West of Brooklyn.”

“All right,” I said, “I’ll have a matzo ball soup and a turkey sandwich.”

There was actually a container of Kosher pickles on the table, and the food was served cordially and super fast. The chicken broth wasn’t bad, but the matzo ball was more like a bocce ball, perfectly round and a little hard. The turkey was of the super market variety, but the sandwich with avocado, tomatoes, sprouts and onions was okay. The coleslaw was forgettable. Best of the whole thing was the pickle jar and the uninterrupted Seinfeld shows on the TV.

I actually forgot about the food and the root canal watching George get grounded by his parents after he got caught in his parent’s bed making whoopee with his girl friend. You are grounded! Hysterical.

For the record, Bitterman’s has pastrami, salami, turkey, liverwurst, corned beef, roast beef, Lox, etc, etc. There is no brisket with potato pancakes, but they can fix you some beef teriyaki and even a proscuitto sandwich (not kosher of course). They even have a Jalapeno sandwich with hot pastrami, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and mayo on a French roll (don’t know what happened to the jalapenos). They also have bagels, hot dogs, Reuben’s, rice crispy treats, and cookies. They even have egg creams.

If you think of Junior's, Kenny’s, or Canter’s in LA, or Nathan’s or 2nd Avenue in NY, just forget it. But if you’re feeling a little nostalgic, just lower your expectations a bit and enjoy the pickles and the Seinfeld show.

Until next week, ciao

- Louie

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