We finally made it to Prime Deli. Yes, they’ve been open for nine whole weeks, and as a Twin Cities Jewish blog that regularly publishes restaurant reviews, recipes, and other food-related articles, we admit that it’s taken far too long to get a proper review on our site. We see you shaking your head in shame, and believe us, we get it. We’re embarrassed too. But that’s all in the past now. We’ve eaten there. We had lunch. We noshed. We called our mother.
What is Prime Deli, you ask?[1. OK, we get it, it took us forever to get the word out] Prime is a new(-ish) kosher deli spot in St. Louis Park, serving kosher meat among other things. For those keeping score, that makes exactly one kosher meat restaurant in the Twin Cities.[2. Two if you count the kosher hot dogs at Target Field, and three if you count the Byerly’s meat counter. But do you?] So really, it doesn’t matter what we say here; because if you keep kosher, and you like meat, Prime Deli wins for just existing.
But they win for a bit more than that. We went Full-Deli for lunch, ordering a cup of Matzo Ball Soup, “3 Little Knishes,” and the pastrami sandwich on caraway rye.[4. Some New Yorkers would take umbrage that we were even asked for our choice of bread. But this isn’t New York, so whatever.] The soup, out first, ended up being the highlight of the meal. Chunks of chicken, carrot, and onion added flavor to the broth. The broth itself packed a lot of depth and didn’t need any salt or pepper added, a rarity for this reviewer! The matzo ball itself was firm, if a bit bland. It feels weird to describe a ball made out of matzo meal as bland, but it’s true. The best matzo balls should remind you of your grandmother; this did not.
Next we tried their knish trio: Potato Onion, Corned Beef & Kraut, BBQ Pulled Beef. Of the three, we probably liked the potato and onion knish the best, but they all tasted remarkably similar. The caramelized onion gave that knish a bit of sweetness. The sauerkraut added whatever it is that sauerkraut adds, but the knish tasted more Irish-influenced (corned beef and cabbage) than Reubenesque. The BBQ beef was barely noticeable. They all came on a plate of some type of sweet gravy, with a bitter element we couldn’t place. All told, the dish wasn’t bad, but next time we’ll just order a knish as a side and skip the appetizer version.
Finally we had the pastrami on rye, because any place that calls itself a deli should be judged on its pastrami on rye. So… we love what Prime is doing, and we’re very happy it exists to serve a thoroughly underserved section of our community, but we likely will not be ordering this again. The meat was spongy, which is a terrible way to describe food (unless it’s a sponge cake), but we’re not sure what else to call it. It wasn’t the tender stuff you find at a classic NY-style deli, but it wasn’t even the stuff you can find at deli-inspired places like Common Roots. We also took issue with the pastrami spice—or lack thereof. The bland meat was met with underwhelming spices, which made the whole sandwich pretty lackluster.
We are admittedly not well-versed on the availability or quality of kosher meat for restaurant use in this city; so we hesitate to judge too harshly. And we prefer our pastrami spices to be so peppery it numbs our mouths; so our tastebuds may not align with the masses. But for us, the best thing on that plate was the pickled tomato, which by the way was dynamite. If it’s house-made, we suggest Prime do way more of that. If they bring it in,[5. They tout that everything is fresh and hand-made, but something like a pickled tomato slice is such an afterthought that we’d forgive them for shipping it in] then they need to stay buddy-buddy with that supplier. It was bright, acidic, sweet, with just the perfect amount of pickling. But yeah, if we’re raving about the tomato slice on a pastrami sandwich plate, the main character clearly needs some work.
Overall, we liked the meal. The inside of Prime is bright and inviting, with clean lines and plenty of space. The food, while not blow-your-socks-off good, was worth a return visit, even for someone that doesn’t keep kosher. For someone that does keep kosher, this must be a welcome addition to the Twin Cities dining scene. Even for the non-meat eater, there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, like falafel, spring rolls, and multiple salad options. Next time, though, we’ll probably get the burger, or come for dinner and get the mocha flat iron. Or we’ll just order a plate of those tomatoes.