Editor’s Note: Rye is now closed.
We usually mistrust any kind of egg roll that doesn’t have at least a hint of Asian flavor; thus it was with great skepticism that we ordered the Reuben Egg Rolls at Rye Deli & Bar on a recent late night happy hour. Taking one of history’s greatest sandwiches and reducing it to what can often be a greasy, insipid brown cylinder is just asking for trouble.
But we’re happy to report that this roll vaults past gimmickry, and lands squarely in the realm of inspired, deep-fried deliciousness. Piping hot and cut on the bias, these rolls are rich, salty, tangy, chewy, and sweet – all the pleasures of a good Reuben without the commitment of a massive sandwich. Admirably crisp and not at all greasy, the rolls are stuffed with Rye’s house-cured corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. On the side is a spicy/sweet Sriracha thousand island sauce for dipping. The rolls paired up especially well with a good local tap beer (we opted for a 612 Rated R, which is their rye IPA – it seemed appropriate), and there’s no arguing with the deal: $3.50 for the rolls, and $1.50 off all taps.
We also sampled the fries, the knish, the latke, the cheese curds, and the Brussels sprouts. All of these little noshes acquitted themselves well – the fries are up to par with some of the best around (hand cut, skin-on); the knish was buttery and rich (though not as hot as we would’ve liked); the latke was crispy (and served with plenty of apple compote and sour cream); the curds were hot, crisp, and unimpeachable (with a nicely sweet mustard sauce); and the sprouts were decently browned and tossed with apple (they needed more salt, which was easily remedied with a shaker on the bar). But the Reuben Egg Rolls were the undeniable star of the happy hour show.
This makes us happy. Early on, Rye was pilloried by the local food press – most notably by Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern – for serving up mediocre takes on traditional Jewish deli cuisine. It seems that over the years, Rye has quietly made steady improvements across the board. At the very least, the late night happy hour (2pm-7pm and 10pm-close, every day) is the best deal in the neighborhood – when you want to thread the needle between the high-dollar Burch Steak, ultra-lowbrow Liquor Lyle’s, or the jam-packed Lowry, Rye is a solid bet. Never too busy, it offers engaging bartenders, a relaxed vibe, and some cheap but tasty food and booze. It’s a great spot to watch the Timberwolves give away a game in the fourth quarter on a weeknight.
Rye Delicatessen & Bar, 1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403; 612.871.1200