A recent weekend adventure took me to The Borscht Belt Delicatessen in the riverside town of Stockton, New Jersey. A Jewish-style eatery, this spot opened earlier in 2021 and has been on my “must try” list ever since. My original plan was to pair a visit with a bike ride along the D & R canal in late August, but Hurricane Ida did away with those plans in short order. The entire area was hard hit so I put my plans on the back burner for a late fall visit instead.
The surrounding areas of Lambertville, Frenchtown, and New Hope are not lacking in the restaurant department by any means. Still, the thought of an authentic Jewish deli, complete with vivid neon lights and an array of smoked fish and fish salads, perfect bagels and bialys, plus various schmears, spreads, and sweets had my mouth watering.
Saturday mornings at the deli are busy, but I was still greeted with a smile, a warm hello, and a menu to peruse. The choices overwhelmed me! Everything sounded delicious and it was a hard decision, but I finally settled on the Concord, a coffee, and a mini black-and-white cookie.
Not Your Average Breakfast Fare
The Concord sandwich includes baked salmon salad, sliced nova lox, horseradish cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, capers and lemon juice served on a bialy. The coffee was handed over hot and fresh while the rest of the food arrived at my table in a few short minutes. Needless to say, I was in heaven.
The sandwich was stuffed full of fish, but there was nothing fishy about it. The baked salmon salad was creamy and delicate—something I would like to recreate at home. Here’s a quick rundown of my sandwich experience:
The nova lox: felt luxurious.
The tomatoes: perfectly ripe.
Horseradish cream cheese: Why have I never thought of this?
The red onions and capers, while standard on a lox sandwich, added that perfect sharp-and-salty bite while the squeeze of lemon offset all of the richness without being too assertive. The bialy, sturdy enough to handle it all, was neither too tough nor too chewy. This creation comes in miles ahead of the average bagel and lox! After the sandwich I was onto the mini black-and-white cookie, which was the perfect sweet bite to complement my coffee.
Not quite into fish first thing in the morning? Not to worry! The Borscht Belt Delicatessen offers familiar staples like bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches served on a challah roll, fresh rye bread or a bagel. You can even get avocado toast.
For lunch, you’ll find sandwiches including corned beef, hot pastrami, roast beef, and chopped liver, as well as the deli classics egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad, each served on your choice of bread.
The specialty sandwiches all sounded amazing but the Kellermans Favorite has my name on it for my next visit. This one includes pastrami, corned beef, AND turkey on toasted rye with Russian dressing and coleslaw.
“Be a Mensch”
The Borscht Belt Delicatessen is a small space, but there is a lot to take in as you look around. The real eye catcher, aside from all of that gleaming smoked fish in the deli case, is a giant sized bagel chair and a bright blue neon “Be a Mensch” sign.
The people at the Borscht Belt Delicatessen certainly live up to the saying on the wall. After Ida rolled through, bringing floods and destruction to the local area, the deli’s social media posts stated they would be feeding front-line crews bagels and coffee.
Their posts later shared acknowledging that the local area was without power and that roads were flooded, but if anyone needed a bite to eat they would provide food, along with updates of safe, local roads to travel throughout the weekend.
Those acts of kindness really stuck with me. In a year of hardships within the restaurant industry, this new kid on the block was already giving back. And this made me want to visit even more. Now that I’ve been there, I know I’ll be back.