Latke Lowdown: Guest Critic Eric Schaefer Pits Abe's Against Goldman's

Eric Schaefer
Latke luck: Goldman's on the left, Abe's on the right.

Editor's Note: In this special edition of "Battle of the Dishes," we asked our favorite mensch, Eric Schaefer, to do some latke research for us.

Latkes are the culinary poster child for Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights that is of relatively minor religious significance but gives us Jewish kids something to brag about when everyone else is talking about Christmas. It has been suggested that latkes, which are potato pancakes cooked in oil, are an edible tribute to the oil that miraculously lasted for 8 nights in a temple in ancient Israel. Sounds like a marketing ploy to me but, in either case, latkes are a delicious comfort food appreciated by both Jews and gentiles.

See also:
- Abe's of Scottsdale Shakes Up the Jewish-Style Deli Scene
- Six Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah in Metro Phoenix

So which Scottsdale deli will prevail, Abe's or Goldman's? Oy, the stress.

In this corner: Abe's

The Setup: Abe's the new kid on the block. With a 35-year history in Baltimore, Abe's recently opened in Scottsdale with a decidedly "upscale" approach. This isn't Katz's Delicatessen in New York, where the service is surly, the food authentic and the health code violations plentiful. It's shiny, new and has its sights set on making a big statement with friendly service and lots of hokey Yiddish references on the menu.

The Good: These latkes are visually stunning. Obviously hand-formed and nearly perfect in color, they should be the search result when you look up "latke" on Google. And that's where the goodness ends.

The Bad: Like trying to have an intelligent conversation with a supermodel, the beauty here is quickly forgotten. Soggy, unseasoned and flavorless are attributes to which no self-respecting latke aspires. Although the green onions were an interesting touch, they added nothing in terms of flavor. In fact, I could detect no onion flavor whatsoever. Various combinations of applesauce, sour cream and salt could not resuscitate them; these latkes were dead on arrival. Sadly, the hash browns at McDonald's taste more like latkes that what I was served at Abe's.

The Price: $6.50 for two latkes, with sour cream and applesauce.

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Fantastic job, bar-mitzvah boy! Now I can't rest 'til I have some latkes at Goldman's.

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