I'm a bit ashamed to say yesterday was my first visit to Hygrade Deli. I've driven past countless times, but never stopped in. Probably because the neighborhood is a bit sketchy, if I'm honest, but I won't be repeating that mistake!
Since it was my first time, I kept it simple: a cup of navy bean soup, and a Reuben. Kind of my standard order for trying a deli for the first time. If they can't get these right, just move along.
The soup was homemade, and excellent. The broth was flavorful, enriched with ham. The soup had a generous distribution of carrot, celery, and onion, further fortifying the flavor. Frankly, if I had a bowl of this, and a good-sized chunk of cornbread (no, not on the menu, but please consider this a strong suggestion), it would be a great lunch.
The Reuben was of a normal size, probably 4 - 6 oz. of meat on two normal-sized slices of grilled rye. It wasn't a monster, and that's OK.
The sauerkraut was drained a bit so the sandwich didn't get soggy, and the swiss was a single thick slice.
The Russian dressing tasted homemade as well, but I can't swear to it. It was applied in the right proportion, not overpowering the sandwich, or glopping all over your hands.
But the corned beef, the most meaningful ingredient in a Reuben?
Hands down, the best corned beef I've eaten in Detroit (sorry, Sy!). Tender, lean, succulent, flavorful. Awesome corned beef. The Olympic gold medal of corned beef. This is what I would make corned beef taste like, if I knew how to make corned beef! Really delicious--in case that hasn't come through yet.
It's not cheap eats. Lunch was $13 for the cup of soup, the Reuben, and a soda. However, it was a good value, as the ingredients were homemade, of high quality, and delicious.
The restaurant itself seems populated with a good mix of regulars and noobs, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. The decor is wonderfully dated, and I'm guessing the last remodeling took place in the late 60s. I haven't seen that kind of sparkly vinyl upholstery in decades!
Hygrade is worth a bit of a drive, and definitely worth stopping in, if you happen to be driving by. This place is the real deal, and there aren't many of these places left. Eat there while you can.
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