Friday, March 5, 2010
FRIDAY FISH FINDS: IZZY'S FRIED COD SANDWICH
When I decided to dive into fish this Lent, it was partly to prod myself into cooking more fish. Which I've been doing to an extent. But I also wanted to make a point of trying some specialty items offered by others this time of year. Knowing this evening wouldn't lend itself to cooking (must pack and be ready to leave for Louisville by 8:30 tomorrow morning), I opted for the fried cod sandwich from Izzy's at lunch instead. I've been going to Izzy's since my father introduced me to it the second time we moved to Cincinnati, when I was in sixth or seventh grade. A long, narrow hole-in-the-wall, with tubs of pickles and sauerkraut on the formica tables, the original upper Race St. location of the deli was presided over by the cantankerous Izzy Kadetz himself. You never got a check; when you finished eating, you went up to Izzy at the cash register and just told him what you'd had. If you ordered carryout, he'd always try to chide you into ordering a drink. "That's where I make my money," he'd complain. Even now, with Izzy himself long gone and the operation moving to multiple, sparklier locations, the staff wears T-shirts that read: "Hurry back - got rent to pay." Izzy's built its reputation on overstuffed corned beef sandwiches and even larger potato pancakes, which come with every sandwich, half or whole. A half is usually plenty for me, although lately I've decided it's a better value to buy a whole for lunch, then reheat half of both the sandwich and the potato cake for dinner. (Must pace oneself.) My favorite is the Spicy Delight - pastrami, Swiss, and sliced onion on rye with a relish of black and green olives, garlic, and roasted red pepper. It had always struck me as surprising that the fried cod sandwiches of this German-Jewish deli, served only on Fridays during Lent, were wildly popular. But today I decided to pass up my beloved Spicy and give one a try. Wildly popular indeed. Anticipating it would be difficult to get a seat, I called ahead for carryout. After being put on hold for three minutes, I phoned back and managed to avoid being put on hold again by pointing out that fact. "Give us 20 minutes," I was told. When I arrived at the Main St. store at the appointed time, the line was out the door and I had to politely elbow my way inside to make my pick-up. The Izzy's on Main is always busy at lunch, but I've never seen it this crowded. Although I'm not usually a big fan of breaded fish, this was fried cod I was happy to eat. The thick chunks of flaky fish spilled out over the edge of the accompanying rye, and the breading on the cod had a bit of kick to it. I was under the impression that the standard way Izzy's served this sandwich was not only on rye bread but also with cheese. Not so - I guess many people just order it that way. Mine came cheese-less and with a modest smear of tartar sauce. A lot of fried goodness on that plate, and I'm still full nine hours later. So not only do I not need to cook tonight, I don't need to eat. The better to regain my appetite for the dining marathon to come this weekend in Louisville. Must pace oneself . . .