Chow, Baby: Wednesday, January 2, 2003
Better Than Fake Sex

Carshon’s Deli really should rename its Strawberry Delight ($2.25) something like “You Know, That Scene in When Harry Met Sally.” With every bite of berry-infused whipped cream and vanilla wafer crumbs, Chow, Baby does a passable impression of Meg Ryan’s orgasmic fake-out. Truthfully, a good egg salad on rye also has that effect on Chow, Baby — a nice, fresh, creamy egg salad on soft kosher rye from Highland Park Bakery — oooh ... ooooh ... oooooooh ... Ahem.

Carshon’s, at 3133 Cleburne Rd just off Berry, is 1634 miles from Katz’s “As Seen in the Movies” Delicatessen (don’t you just love MapQuest?), but it may be the closest Fort Worth gets to a Jewish deli. Observant they ain’t — they’ll put cheddar on your tongue sandwich, if you really want — but you’d have to schlep all those miles to find better pastrami. It’s piled high on the Rebecca ($5.95), along with smoked turkey, cream cheese, and Russian dressing, on grilled egg bread. One bite of the classic Reuben — corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on grilled rye bread — transported Chow, Baby to the Lower East Side. And in the little-things-count category, the garlicky dills are as crisp and tingly as if they had just been fished out of a Delancey Street pickle barrel.

Two things ruin the classic deli feel: First, Carshon’s is open for business on the Jewish Sabbath and closed on the Christian Sabbath. It seems strange to order matzo ball soup on a Saturday, but heck, when in the Bible Belt... . The other problem is that the Texan wait staff is way too friendly and helpful. But Chow, Baby has found a way around that little glitch. Just place a to-go order with one of the surly counter gals and badda-bing, you’re in the brusque Big Apple.

Bagels with Bite, But...

Giving its jaw muscles a workout with a huge sesame bagel topped with sun-dried tomato cream cheese, Chow, Baby relaxed in Boopa’s Bagel Deli’s eclectic eating/hangout area. The bagelry, opened a few months ago at 6513 N. Beach at Western Center, sports comfy couches, crayons and coloring books, and, on the day Chow, Baby and guest visited, Norah Jones and Elvis Presley alternating on the stereo. “What’s the definition of a good bagel?” mumbled Chow, Baby’s companion through a mouthful of cinnamon raisin with honey walnut cream cheese. Chow, Baby’s muffled response: “You want it to fight you back.” He chewed, contemplated, chewed some more, eventually swallowed, and reported, “This is a really good bagel.”

Agreed. Boopa’s bagels are perfectly New Yorky, with a shiny hard outside crust and dense innards that made Chow, Baby suspect actual, authentic boiling-before-baking. The schmears, alas, are as bland as Iowa, with no bite to the jalapeńo and no discernible bacon in the bacon scallion. Back to the plus side, Boopa’s “signature” sandwiches ($4.50) are inventive combos like olive pimiento cream cheese, Swiss cheese, ham, and roasted red pepper (the Oliver Twist) on your choice of bagel. The premium coffee, by Richardson roasters Coffee Eiland, is fabulous, and thankfully the varieties do not include Snickerdoodle. Name aside, the Boopa’s folks are serious about their business.

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