Behind every Mike's Deli sandwich is a cold pasta salad. Today's, tinged green with pesto, sported an odd lot of at least three different pasta shapes. I'd always thought of it as perfunctory (and haven't shown it here), but on reflection I have a theory about its presence on the plate. A buttress of pasta helps shore up a behemoth like this "Yankee Stadium Big Boy" (roll, $11.50) — which sports mortadella, ham, salami, and capicolo; heavy slices of mozzarella; lettuce, sweet peppers (or, if you prefer, hot peppers) and balsamic vinegar — and prevents the sandwich from toppling over in untimely fashion. Eventually, though, it fell to my appetite; so did the pasta salad.
Mike's Deli 2344 Arthur Ave. (East 186th St.-Crescent Ave., inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market), Belmont, Bronx 718-295-5033 www.ArthurAvenue.com
...no icy." To forestall customers who might maintain that their slush in a cup is neither solid nor liquid, a third state of matter has been identified, and banned, at this casual-wear storefront. The management apparently still hasn't caught wind of edible balloons.
There's little to be said about this sweet and sour chicken (lunch special, $5.75) that isn't implicit in the orange glow of the sauce, and in the viscosity of the leavings. With vegetable fried rice and (who was I kidding?) a Diet Coke.
See also the "Eat-It-All" ice cream cone that used to hang over the restaurant.
Foo Hing Chinese Kitchen 522 East 138th St. (St. Ann's-Brook Aves.), Mott Haven, Bronx (one of several locations) 718-993-8680
No utensils were requested, offered, or, for that matter, anywhere in sight at this Ghanaian restaurant. In addition to my chow, the tray passed over the counter held a metal basin of warm water; for washing up, pump soap and plentiful napkins were waiting at every table. I used fingerfuls of banku, a cooked dough of fermented corn (and in this case cassava, too, I believe) to help scoop up a spinach stew whose strongest seasoning, appearances to the contrary, was onion, and that was laden with hefty chunks of beef ($10). After a lunch like this there's no need for dinner.
My stew itself was less interesting than the behavior of several other customers. When I rose to return my empty tray — I, the only diner who couldn't possibly pass as Ghanaian — the counter crew were busy with a sudden rush of orders. A fellow sitting at one table and reading a newspaper arose, took my tray (perhaps he said, "Here"), quickly caught the eye of someone in the kitchen and handed over the tray, then returned to his seat and resumed reading. Not eating, just reading. I took him for a regular, acting as a bridge between newcomers and an overburdened staff without giving it a thought.
I also noticed two other diners, with meals much like mine, who had just sat down at adjoining tables, but positioned, apparently by chance, so that they were facing each other. Quickly they struck up a conversation that I couldn't fathom, apart from the good humor of their expressions. Need it be added that neither was fingering a mobile phone?
Gaskiya African Restaurant 57 East Tremont Ave. (Walton-Morris Aves.), Morris Heights, Bronx 347-597-7708
For sandwich do-it-yourselfers, Liebman's offers cold cut platters accompanied by potato salad, cole slaw, pickles, and rye. This assorted platter ($21.95, including a $2 surcharge for the meat in the center, presumably for substance and not style) was of uneven appeal. It's best to pass up the corned beef and pastrami in favor of the tongue, here evocative of a Magen David, albeit with two points too many.
Also shown, both in side view: a slice of stuffed derma (two for $7.95), a.k.a. kishka, which my dining buddies proclaimed insufficiently schmaltzy; a very puffy potato pancake ($4.50).
Liebman's Delicatessen 552 West 235th St. (Johnson-Oxford Aves.), Riverdale, Bronx 718-548-4534 www.LiebmansDeli.com
How it must rankle the media buyers to rely on telephone kiosks! The second ad does make an attempt, it seems, to shake off the landline legacy by using the grammar and stacatto text associated with doge, an internet meme that subverts conventional grammar by pairing nouns and modifiers in dissonant phrases. However, by the time this campaign was conceived, approved, executed, and placed, doge had already lost much of its currency. In short: So last year.
Ads for GrubHub and Seamless "Outdated paper menus are full of lies. Lies, I tell you!" Tremont, Bronx "Such takeout. No calls. Very amaze." Flushing, Queens