This Cameron Mitchell spot helps fill the city's delicatessen deficit with a mix of the modern and traditional.
With a name built on steakhouses, something as pedestrian as deli fare may seem a departure for Cameron Mitchell. But his 25 years of restaurant knowledge and travels around the U.S. bring some elegance to a genre previously only available in an over-the-counter atmosphere. Enter Harvey & Ed’s.
Situated in the former Rigsby’s Kitchen space in the Short North (what I call “Cameron Mitchell row”), Harvey & Ed’s features an open kitchen and deli, with by-the-pound carryout offerings, pantry items and Block’s bagels for sale near the front door. Inside the black-and-green accented space, customers can dine barside, at high-tops, tables or booths. (Purse hooks and customer-facing bar outlets for phone charging reveal an emphasis on user experience reliably present in Mitchell’s joints.) In-your-face music speaks to likely customers. A recent Sunday brunch played the Beatles, while millennial-friendly tunes set the tone during happy hour.
The menu is full-scale Jewish deli, showcasing both well-known and less mainstream options. Given the Cameron Mitchell way of appealing to the everyman, items like chopped liver and whitefish may seem like a risk, but definitions playfully pepper the menu, and the servers are adept at gently warning diners that dishes like creamed herring aren’t for everyone.Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
Service-wise, Harvey & Ed’s is still struggling with how to best mold traditional table service with delicatessen style, especially when it comes to course changes. In one instance, the correct utensils were not provided before food arrived. In another, the dinner-time condiments remained on the table as dessert was served, and in one awkward encounter, the sandwiches arrived just seconds after appetizers. The fact that sandwiches take less time to prepare than firing up entrées should be accounted for, especially coming from such an experienced restaurateur.
While bringing table service to a deli presents a challenge, bringing booze to the genre provides much more favorable results. A brunch-time Spritz ($9) combining Aperol, cava and lemon presents a coral-colored bright and balanced beverage. (We’ll have to disagree, Aperol Spritz haters.) And the Boozy Egg Cream ($9) is a tequila-spiked cool (but not cold) chocolate milk served in a tiny milk bottle with a metal straw and mixer. And on top of its bar offerings (which include wine and beer), Harvey & Ed’s serves up traditional egg creams and deli sodas (think: Dr. Browns), including a few of their own. The blackberry soda ($3.50) is a shrub-based soda for grown-ups, refreshing and not too sweet.
The menu—which draws a strikingly close resemblance in design to New York’s Russ & Daughters Café—is divided into starters (including noshes and shareable platters), deli fare, entrées and brunch, all of which, with the exception of brunch, are available at any time. During happy hour (from 3 to 6 p.m. daily), a selection of noshes are half off.
One of those deals is the Latke Royale (regularly $14). A crisp, hockey puck-sized grated potato disk over crème frâiche serves as the base for a small salad of shaved fennel, apple and a cluster of fresh dill. It comes topped with a mound of super-salty house-cured salmon. On its own, the salmon is too salty to handle, but when combined with the rest of the ingredients, this becomes one of the best options on the menu.
The smoked whitefish platter ($14), on the other hand, lacks flavor and is a little pricey for the portion size and kitchen effort. One-inch pieces of cool and smoked whitefish join thinly cut tomato slices, fluffy cream cheese, fresh dill and cucumber coins on one pretty plate; it comes accompanied with a metal basket of house-cut bagel chips. A second helping of cream cheese is needed to properly assemble the ingredients, and the fish is—like the majority of options at the restaurant—under-salted. A few capers would have gone a long way.
The brunch (available on weekends) features deals on mimosa pitchers and one of my favorite dishes: The smoked salmon Benedict ($17) is a definite win. Toasted challah replaces the traditional English muffin, while cream cheese and a spot of caviar make this dish—with its perfectly poached egg and generous portion of smoked salmon—a Harvey & Ed’s highlight. Crispy fingerlings and a small bowl of fresh fruit accompany. The only thing missing: a dash of salt.
The sandwich menu has traditional Jewish deli fare, with a few outliers including the $25 David’s Dagwood, with a pound of meat. (I steered clear.) A version of an Italian sub, The Klein Grinder ($16 with a side), was also generous with its proteins (salami, turkey and corned beef), which were folded into Muenster cheese, slathered with excessive mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and an Italian dressing, all served warm on an 8-inch hoagie bun. When assembled, the sandwich was tasty, but the corned beef on its own lacked its trademark tang. It’s totally worth upgrading to the noodle kugel or adding it as a side ($5). This Jewish comfort food was served straight from the oven and is an exercise of savory-meets-sweet, especially with the inclusion of a few raisins.
The vegetarian-friendly deluxe salad platter with egg salad ($12) is a delightful dish. Essentially a deconstructed Niçoise salad (sans tuna), mustard-kissed Yukons, al dente green beans, tomatoes, red onions and hard boiled eggs surround a mound of simple egg salad that had just the right amount of celery and—no surprise here—not enough seasoning.
A Thursday roasted turkey dinner special ($16) gives neighboring Press Grill (which offers a Thanksgiving dinner special on Thursdays) a little competition in the Thanksgiving year-round category. Three bountiful slices of house-brined turkey join thick buttered challah and a thin gravy, which is served with a lightly buttered succotash mixture and fluffy mashed potatoes. The veggies are the highlight of the dish, but the tender turkey is not far behind.
For dessert lovers, the cheesecake ($8) is worth the calories. Dense, fluffy and topped with macerated cherries, the highlight is a sponge-like crust with a slight taste of citrus. You’ll also find chocolate babka French toast ($7) and traditional black and white cookies ($3 each) on the menu.
Harvey & Ed’s shows that deli cuisine doesn’t have to be limited to grab-and-go lunch fare. Instead, it invites you to sit and stay awhile, surrounded by family and friends. And it’s a pleasant alternative to Cameron Mitchell’s other more expensive and dinner-focused joints in the Short North.