Hanna Raskin finds "a vortex of discombobulation and disappointment" at Stopsky's Delicatessen on Mercer Island. While its opening in May "was hailed as a blessed event by Seattle's perpetually dissatisfied deli fans," the trouble starts when a server swears up and down that a sandwich delivered without cheese, sauerkraut, or Russian dressing is, in fact, a Reuben. When the actual Reuben appears, Raskin does enjoy it; she also enjoys the "firm, onion-rich" and non-greasy latke, and the matzoh brei's "fine eggy flavor." Then there's the rest:
The sweet kugel, studded with pistachios and golden raisins for a Sephardic flair, was reminiscent of eating a packaged fruitcake without first removing it from the cardboard box. I didn't have much better luck with the airy liver mousse, mounded in a pair of tough buttercup-yellow pickled-egg halves.
Pastrami is "leathery, and its only discernible flavor is that of defeat." Lox, which should be a standout at a Jewish deli here in salmon country, "has an odd cellophane sheen and a waxy flavor to match."
Granted, successful deli "requires an almost mystical command of spicing, curing, smoking, pickling, and timing," and can be tough to pull off successfully. Raskin's conclusion: "Much like the community-theater troupe that decides to mount an extraterrestrial version of Hamlet, Stopsky's might be better off sticking to the canon." [Seattle Weekly]
The Stranger's David Schmader says Beacon Hill's Baja Bistro is a "world of cafe society, regional Mexican food, neighborhood nightlife, and exemplary gay integration." The coffee house/Mexican diner offers good coffee and Baja-area cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. "The result is simple, humble, family-style Mexican food of a quality that can't be faked." Baja Bistro even has a little bar tucked into its "shambling collection of rooms." That bar, by the way, becomes "very, very gay on Wednesdays." [Stranger]