A Sandwich a Day: The Corned Beef on Rye at Attman's Delicatessen in Baltimore, MD
In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
Attman's, located in Baltimore's Corned Beef Row, bills itself as a real Lower East Side-style New York Jewish delicatessen. The atmosphere and attitude are spot on. The service is gruff and fast-paced—you'd better know what you want before you start talking to the deli man. After I ordered my corned beef on rye, I jumped in with a last-minute decision: "I'll have a hot dog too, please." (I can't not order a hot dog at a place that claims to be NY-style) "With sauerkraut."
Last-minute decisions at Attman's are a bad move.
"Sauerkraut? That's it?"
"I think so." [voice breaks]
"You think so, or you know?"
"Uh... I know?" [fear in eyes]
"So what—you want a hot dog and you don't want mustard on it?"
"Yeah, I'll have mustard." [with a little more confidence]
"What do you mean, yeah? YES OR NO?!?"
"Yes!" [confidence shattered, slightly crying inside]
The nice lady at the cash register gave me a sympathetic smile as she rang me up. If there's one thing that's not lacking at Attman's, it's character.
It might be my fault for ordering the regular corned beef sandwich instead of their "Carnegie Deli Sized" $16 creations, but the sandwich was a bit skimpy. That's about the only real bad thing you could say about it. The steamed corned beef was awesomely tender and moist. For my sandwich, at least, they stacked the flat cut brisket and the fattier point cut brisket together when slicing so that the fat and juices of the latter helped to lubricate the former. It made for some crazy juicy bites.
I suppose you could complain about the machine-sliced beef, but honestly, hand-carving has never really meant all that much to me. As long as they're relatively thick slices, machine or hand makes no difference.
The rye bread had a faint hit of caraway flavor that complemented the beef and spicy mustard as it slowly got soaked by meat juices, threatening to fall apart. It just barely held itself together until I finished the last bite, which is to say, it did exactly what rye bread should do in a proper corned beef sandwich.
I happened to walk through the door just as they were about to close (the door was literally locked behind me when I came in—what's with all the restaurants in Baltimore closing at 6pm?), and the griddle had already been shut down for the night, so unfortunately the hot dog I ordered came from a pile of lukewarm dogs sitting on a sheet tray off to the side. Not their finest work, I'm sure, but still enough to get a taste for what they do.
The deli man seemed a bit unsure as to where the dogs are sourced from ("they're original recipe Kosher dogs"), but as a New York dog, they aren't quite right. Though tasty and nicely salted with great snap to their natural casing, there's something slightly off in the balance of the spicing. Forget that it's meant to be a NY-style kosher dog, however, and it's delicious.
Ask for them with the works, and you get'em wrapped up in a slice of bologna. I'll have to remember to try that some time.