CLEWeek Quick Byte: Mr. Brisket
Posted by cmh gourmand on June 12, 2013
About 95% of my eating discoveries are not random – they are places I have heard of from valued sources, the result of intense research or a referral. In the case of Mr. Brisket, it was pure, blind luck I found this gem. While looking for a parking space near Melt, I caught a glint of the sign out of the corner of my eye. I was not sure if the place was wholesale or retail but it exuded “exceptional hole in the wall aura” from my street side view. I had promised my road trip companion a trip to Melt but I added, “I hope you don’t mind, but we have to go over and check out the brisket place afterwards”. The duder agreed. I have to admit, I much as I like Melt, I could not get Mr. Brisket off my mind. I was worried we might dawdle too long and miss out on something. When I did finally walk through the door, it was love at first sniff. In retrospect, I am peeved with my friends that hail from Cleveland for never mentioning this meat based business to me. How could my cured meat loving pals from Willoughby, Euclid and elsewhere have never thought to mention this mecca of meat to me? Yes, I felt hurt, rage, many strong emotions.
Sanford Herskovitz started in the fine meats business in the late 1970’s. It was not his plan (most great things are not according to agenda more often that are a muted calling), he has just earned his Ph.D in psychology and had not yet found a teaching job. He was helping his mother manage some accounts she was working and found a taste for the meat business. He has not relented from his trade since. In the mid 1980’s a new member was added to the team, Hank Kornblut. He followed s similar path as his salami sensei, he was working in the shop while looking for something else…and found a higher meaning in meats.
The background above, sets the stage for why I am such a fan of Mr. Brisket. I decided I liked the place before my first bite. If I had the time and a chair to sit on, I would sit in the shop all day to listen to and observe the banter back and forth among the owner, employees and customers. These guys behind the counter are a wealth of knowledge and prize customer service over all things. I was stuffed from my previous lunch but still determined to order a sandwich. I ended up ordering two. I ordered a standard corned beef (a benchmark of ethnic Cleveland) and “The Duke” a giant combo sandwich which ensured I did not miss out on anything the shop had to serve. The Duke is: one pound of corned beef, turkey, salami and brisket with swiss cheese – served with the motto – “You Can’t Handle the Duke!” Well I did, but by converting the meaty mass into two different sandwiches – half for the road and the other half when I arrived back in Columbus hours later.
There are other strong indicators that this place is the real deal: blackboard menus, lots of cured meats sliced to order, no tables or chairs, a non stop string of regular customers rotating through the door and many, many wisecracks, back slaps and words of wisdom in between. I wish I could visit more often but between trips, I can keep up on all things brisket by signing up for their e-mail list (often entertaining) and reading the Mr. Brisket Blog.
Want some other incentives? How about some featured sides that might make a hardened Brooklynite weep:
Chopped Liver, Potato Knishes, Matzo Ball Soup, Potato Pancakes, aged pickles, jars of Aged Pickles and of course Stadium Mustard on request. Another item of note, Rumanian Pastrami. Where else in Ohio would one find that other than Mr. Brisket. Make the trip and take a cooler if you hail from out of town.
2156 S. Taylor Rd.
Closed Sundays and Mondays