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Places Already Mentioned - Dueling Deli's - Chaim's/Kaufman'

Places Already Mentioned - Dueling Deli's - Chaim's/Kaufman'
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  • Places Already Mentioned - Dueling Deli's - Chaim's/Kaufman'

    Post #1 - October 27th, 2004, 1:48 pm
    Post #1 - October 27th, 2004, 1:48 pm Post #1 - October 27th, 2004, 1:48 pm
    Chaim's (and some Kaufman's)

    Lament the lack of likable deli's we do too often. I lament. Like ten or more times, I am sure I can [ed. could?] be found on chowhound lamenting the lack of deli in Chicago. I lament the lack of of a deli in the league of Rascal House, Carnegie or perhahaps even Langers. Nosher's paradises linked with a heavy dose of schmooze. As good as Manny's is with the package, perhaps the lack of service limits the deli lure.

    Us lamenters like to look at the lore of the deli instead of liking them for what they laddle up. Further, we look past the fact that deli counter can be just as likeable as the rooms of yore. Now, a lush spread of meats, breads, salads, pickles, mustards taken to go, the other night, left me entirely satisfied and lamenting a little less than before.

    On Dempster leeward of el adjunct Skokie Swift, one can find dueling deli's: Kaufman's and Chaim's. Neither lacks the repetoire, yet neither possesses the landscape. Strictly take out outfits both. I left one with a load of food; then visited the other for that much more. My lips smacked all afternoon as I looked forward to my lunch-like dinner.

    Go to Kaufman's if you want your store a bit cleaner, your staff primarily Russian and your pastrami proudly labeled Detroit's Sy Ginsberg. Expect to loiter over a wealth of alluring breads--how many types of rye was that, and an especially luscious onion studded pumpernickle (a GWiv fav). AnnieB lusts after the large Canadian lake superior whitefish, and I'd listen to her, they looked loaded with tasty (and healthy) lipids. Liver? Limitless supplies of chopped both chicken and beef. We loved that liver, chicken.

    Chaim's looks mightily disorganized, a bit too dirty than it should, and is blessedly possesed of the CRC logo (if that matters to you). But Chaim's lends the Chicago legion's of deli lamenters some things to really like. Unlike Kaufman's, nearly everything at Chaim's location came from within that location. I for one, like the commercial level salads sold at Kaufman's, but I like even more, the house made salads at Chaim's. A big vat of cucumber-tomato "Israeli" salad well exceeded the loss of prime tomato season. Knishes? Of the lousiest listings in Chicago deli's, there nothing more lamentable than the Chicago knish. Typically bready to the extreme, a creature less like its New York breathen than anything else Chicago. Well, Chaim's sells knishes not much like those east, yet special in their own leanings. A lot more like a burek, layers of pastry instead of a few levels of dough. I do truly lament that we only bought two. Everything else we tried at Chaim's lost out to no one. OK, they did a lousy job of trimming the brisket, we paid for a load of fat we fed to the dog. That's it. The loquacious staff loaned us liberal samples of items purchased earlier at Kaufman's, so we could learn. And good looking things like hand sliced lox only made me look forward to returning to Chaim's sooner than later.

    So, lament all you want if you want your deli listing east, but if you can accept letting go with store bought extravaganza (do not look up how much we spent for our spread) you will awfully like Kaufman's and even more, Chaim's. Lament no more!


    Chaim's
    4964 W. Dempster
    Skokie, IL 60077
    847-675-1005

    More Kaufman's
    On sunday, post-Pita Inn and pre-wedding, we visited Kaufman's deli. I have vague recollections of Kaufman's on Kedzie, but I never remember visiting this location.

    This place looks, feels and smells like a deli even if the latina servers do not fit the profile. We started on the bread side and were dazzled by the choices. Which one: onion speckled pumpernickle, corn rye, kaiser rolls, bagels, rummelach, studel!? Well, we did the VI thing, and got them all. Actually nothing sweet, which I soon rued. Then on to the meats.

    LeeK mentioned a while back that the place was kosher, I am not sure as I think I saw cream cheese, still I could be wrong, ask your rabbi. What I also saw was some bloody good looking roast beef (no british inflection implied!). We also purchased corn beef and pickles from the pseudo-barral. Some of the smoke fishes looked inviting, but I wonder why they have no hand sliced cuts.

    In the intervening days, I've sampled everything we purchased (except the pickled tomato which Ms. VI got to first). Maybe because I had some really lousy deli last friday, I was especially happy with this stuff. The breads could have used a bit more crust but tasted special enough. The bagels, well, I suppose if this was the beer world cup and we had a catagory for Chicago-style bready bagels, these would be gold medal worthy. On the other hand, if I was comparing to "real" bagels, I would find them a bit light. Good yeasty flavor nonetheless.

    If Kaufman's was closer, I'd stop by more often. I really need to try that strudel. It beats Onion Roll.

    Kaufman's Bagel and Deli
    4905 Dempster, Skokie
    (847) 677-9880
    Everyday 7am-8pm
  • Post #2 - October 27th, 2004, 4:41 pm
    Post #2 - October 27th, 2004, 4:41 pm Post #2 - October 27th, 2004, 4:41 pm
    VI,

    A great post. To clarify one thing you said, Kauffman's had their first location on Kedzie just north of Montrose on the East side of the street. Eventually, they opened the Dempster location, but kept them both open for many years. During this time, all of the baking was done at the Kedzie location. Probably 15 years ago or so, they outgrew the Kedzie location in terms of the capacity of the bakery, and many of their customers had left the neighborhood, which had undergone a change. They closed up the bakery and sold the building. I'm not sure exactly where it is, but they now have a commercial bakery that does most, but not all, of the baking (bagles are made in the store for the most part) and only the Dempster store.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - October 27th, 2004, 9:30 pm
    Post #3 - October 27th, 2004, 9:30 pm Post #3 - October 27th, 2004, 9:30 pm
    As a former New Yorker, Chaim's is my favorite take-out Deli here in Chicago. Their noodle kugel is really excellent, the kishka has been fine, and their pickles match those on the lower east side. While I don't rate their meats that high (I'll choose Manny's for my sandwiches; New York Bagel for my bialys), Chaim provides the same range of ethnic products that we are now seeing in South Asian, Eastern European, Caribbean, Middle Eastern groceries.

    Note that they are closed on Friday afternoon and Saturday (I don't know about Sunday).

    Kauffman's is fine, but not quite in the same league - although Kauffman's is open Fridays and Saturdays - which may say something.
  • Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 9:39 pm
    Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 9:39 pm Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 9:39 pm
    I saw this today driving west on Dempster:

    Image
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 9:56 pm Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    My memories of Kaufman's on Kedize go back to 1960. First as a recent arrival from the NW burbs, later as a paper delivery kid.

    My first and lasting impression of Kaufmans were the ladies that worked there. I had a bit of a hard time at first, not speaking Yiddish or German, but in time the ladies educated me. What rocked my world, was the fact that all the ladies had tattoos on their forearms. Being 12, raised Roman Catholic, in Park Ridge, I had no idea. When I asked, and was told, my real education began.

    We can skip forward a couple of years, to my early early mornings delivering news papers in Albany Park. My route included Kaufmans. Most mornings I would trade a couple of papers to the guys that were boiling and baking the bagels. That was another education. An education that has spoiled me so that now I look at all other bagles with distaine.

    Then Ada's opened a couple of doors south, and I learned even more.
  • Post #6 - April 14th, 2006, 8:36 am
    Post #6 - April 14th, 2006, 8:36 am Post #6 - April 14th, 2006, 8:36 am
    Kaufman's is highly overrated in my book. Their cake-like bagels are just one step from being -- as our family calls such attempts -- "goy-bels". And it's the 21st century already; time to change their checkout system so you don't have to purchase deli items on the deli side and bakery items on the bakery side -- with two lines to stand in and two cash registers to face. (The times I've gone there to pick up a pre-ordered deli tray, with instructions to also buy a cake or something bakery, necessitate the two-step shuffle.)
    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #7 - April 14th, 2006, 9:21 am
    Post #7 - April 14th, 2006, 9:21 am Post #7 - April 14th, 2006, 9:21 am
    Kaufman's bagels have suffered with the competition from chain bagel stores. I bought a dozen recently and was surprised to find a) raisin (not a bagel flavor!) and b) they're huge and lacking in old fashioned crusty-chewy-ness.

    It's Passover so Kaufman's is closed today (Friday) to nominally acknowledge the holiday. They used to close the bakery all week but the neighborhood has changed since my childhood. Heck, the high schools practically closed during the Passover of my youth. 60% of Niles West was Jewish and we were the least Jewish of the three.

    It has always been my belief that the Skokie Kuafmans was kosher-style although they sell a lot of kosher foods. However, just because they sell meat and milk doesn't make them not kosher. Just don't eat them together.

    Mostly I miss the Lox Boxes we got delivered on special occasions.
  • Post #8 - April 14th, 2006, 11:20 pm
    Post #8 - April 14th, 2006, 11:20 pm Post #8 - April 14th, 2006, 11:20 pm
    At Kaufmann's i always buy a pound of corned beef (not lean),chopped chicken liver,a couple of new pickles and a dozen onion rolls.Then i race home.The only thing that bugs me are the over-zealous clientele.Kinda like the trading floor at the CBOT.I really love Kaufmann's anyway.
  • Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 9:36 am
    Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 9:36 am Post #9 - April 15th, 2006, 9:36 am
    A couple other notes about Kaufmans v. Chaims:
    Chaim's chopped liver is also outstanding -- different (beef, no chicken), but outstanding.

    At Kaufmann's, they'll usually let you take the bagels to the other counter to pay for it all at once, you just have to ask.

    Not to be missed at Kaufmann's: The Pletzl, sort of an onion bialy focaccia hybrid.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 10:44 am Post #10 - April 15th, 2006, 10:44 am
    The only time I was at Chiams they didn't have kichel. That's a deal killer for me.
  • Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 10:57 am
    Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 10:57 am Post #11 - April 15th, 2006, 10:57 am
    Kaufmann bagels are quite tasty! Chaim's is way too dirty for my liking (as you may remember from my Thai restaurant laments).

    I used to work at a great deli called Link's that used to be at Addison and Laramie. The food was unbelievably good. Corned beef was 9$ a pound in 1995 and we couldn't keep it stocked! Plus there were tables so you could eat your lunch there. We had the same regulars every day and it was just a great environment that I am glad I got to experience! Too bad it's gone. Jim Link wanted to retire and none of his kids were interested in taking over.
    The clown is down!
  • Post #12 - May 16th, 2007, 7:54 am
    Post #12 - May 16th, 2007, 7:54 am Post #12 - May 16th, 2007, 7:54 am
    JeanneBean wrote:Kaufmann bagels are quite tasty! Chaim's is way too dirty for my liking (as you may remember from my Thai restaurant laments).

    I used to work at a great deli called Link's that used to be at Addison and Laramie. The food was unbelievably good. Corned beef was 9$ a pound in 1995 and we couldn't keep it stocked! Plus there were tables so you could eat your lunch there. We had the same regulars every day and it was just a great environment that I am glad I got to experience! Too bad it's gone. Jim Link wanted to retire and none of his kids were interested in taking over.


    This brings back memories. My family moved to the Portage Park area in 1960, & we visited Link's for years. Sorry to hear they are gone.
  • Post #13 - May 16th, 2007, 12:43 pm
    Post #13 - May 16th, 2007, 12:43 pm Post #13 - May 16th, 2007, 12:43 pm
    For those who don't know, Chaim's has been closed since the 1st of the year.....
  • Post #14 - May 16th, 2007, 6:03 pm
    Post #14 - May 16th, 2007, 6:03 pm Post #14 - May 16th, 2007, 6:03 pm
    I stopped buying Kauffmans rye bread years ago when they started using dill seed rather than caraway seeds. Was told it saved money, but although similar, it's not the same. I now go to Kauffmans only for corned beef, chopped liver and smoked fish. Still among the best selection for a reasonable price.

    Chaims on the other hand, had much better bakery goods, especially the long onion rolls. When fresh - they do run out - it's one of the better sandwich rolls I've found. As a holder for hard salami, nothing's better. Oh yes, the salami is always bought at Romanian Sausage Co. on Clark. Buy a whole hard salami and let them slice it. Bet it won't last more than a few days.
  • Post #15 - March 16th, 2008, 9:46 am
    Post #15 - March 16th, 2008, 9:46 am Post #15 - March 16th, 2008, 9:46 am
    I stopped at Kaufman early this morning to pick up some soul food and I found the deli side has undergone a mild spiffing up: a few new items in the fish case, new interior signage above the counter and inside the cases, and some shiny new appointments around the room.

    It always makes me happy when an owner shows a little love to an aging store, especially when that store is one of a dying breed.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #16 - March 16th, 2008, 10:16 am
    Post #16 - March 16th, 2008, 10:16 am Post #16 - March 16th, 2008, 10:16 am
    eatchicago wrote:I stopped at Kaufman early this morning to pick up some soul food and I found the deli side has undergone a mild spiffing up: a few new items in the fish case, new interior signage above the counter and inside the cases, and some shiny new appointments around the room.

    It always makes me happy when an owner shows a little love to an aging store, especially when that store is one of a dying breed.

    Best,
    Michael


    I was there yesterday, and the bakery side has undergone a similar transformation, too (including a new POS system that is confounding the sweet little old ladies who work in the bakery). I also noticed a few new people behind the deli counter that I had not seen before (and the absence of a couple that had always been there in the past). I was beginning to fear an ownership change, but evidently all that has happened is that the next generation has taken over the day to day operation of the Kaufman Empire. They are starting to put their mark on the store. Hopefully, all improvements will be for the better.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #17 - March 16th, 2008, 10:18 am
    Post #17 - March 16th, 2008, 10:18 am Post #17 - March 16th, 2008, 10:18 am
    stevez wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:I stopped at Kaufman early this morning to pick up some soul food and I found the deli side has undergone a mild spiffing up: a few new items in the fish case, new interior signage above the counter and inside the cases, and some shiny new appointments around the room.

    It always makes me happy when an owner shows a little love to an aging store, especially when that store is one of a dying breed.

    Best,
    Michael


    I was there yesterday, and the bakery side has undergone a similar transformation, too (including a new POS system that is confounding the sweet little old ladies who work in the bakery). I also noticed a few new people behind the deli counter that I had not seen before (and the absence of a couple that had always been there in the past). I was beginning to fear an ownership change, but evidently all that has happened is that the next generation has taken over the day to day operation of the Kaufman Empire. They are starting to put their mark on the store. Hopefully, all improvements will be for the better.


    The old man was still behind the deli counter.
  • Post #18 - March 16th, 2008, 10:47 am
    Post #18 - March 16th, 2008, 10:47 am Post #18 - March 16th, 2008, 10:47 am
    eatchicago wrote:The old man was still behind the deli counter.


    I'm glad to hear that because he wasn't there yesterday. He's been a long term employee and is very much a part of the soul of Kaufman's.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - March 16th, 2008, 11:43 am
    Post #19 - March 16th, 2008, 11:43 am Post #19 - March 16th, 2008, 11:43 am
    Fingerhuts now operating out of Kaufman's: http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=184932#184932
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 1:28 pm
    Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 1:28 pm Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 1:28 pm
    Today I was at Kaufman's for my annual hamantaschen fix. The hamantaschen looked slightly different -- a little darker and the triangles were more pointed, but nothing to be concerned about.

    Later at work a poppy seed hamantashen seemed the proper finish to lunch. It tasted different. The filling seemed less sweet and the poppy seeds were crushed together rather than being individually distinct. We thought the dough was heavier; my wife said it was more like a quick bread than a yeast bread.

    It wasn't quite the dread cookie dough formula (ptah! ptah!) that too many places use already, but definitely not what I was used to at Kaufman's.

    I called Kaufman's to ask if there had been a recipe change. The lady who answered said she knew of no change and that if I wanted more info I'd have to call in the morning to get the baker.

    Does anyone know anything more about this? Did I just get an odd batch or is there a change in the formula?
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 1:33 pm
    Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 1:33 pm Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 1:33 pm
    I had a store-made chicken pot pie from Kaufman's a few weeks ago. Absolutely delicious.
  • Post #22 - March 19th, 2008, 1:38 pm
    Post #22 - March 19th, 2008, 1:38 pm Post #22 - March 19th, 2008, 1:38 pm
    Hi,

    I have seen quite a bit more creativity coming from Kaufmans from signage, deli offerings and bakery items. I have been pointed to the baker. Maybe I need to stop by some morning to see the baker. He seems to be a creative spark there.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - March 19th, 2008, 3:17 pm
    Post #23 - March 19th, 2008, 3:17 pm Post #23 - March 19th, 2008, 3:17 pm
    George R wrote:Does anyone know anything more about this? Did I just get an odd batch or is there a change in the formula?


    They did hire a new baker recently who is also producing his own goods under the Fingerhut name a few days every week. It was my understanding that the Kaufman's products were still being made using the same recipes, but maybe that's not entirely the case, which would be too bad. For me, Kaufman's hamantaschen were the ur-hamantaschen, since I grew up eating them. Hopefully, it was just an off batch.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 9:51 am
    Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 9:51 am Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 9:51 am
    Stevez wrote:
    For me, Kaufman's hamantaschen were the ur-hamantaschen, since I grew up eating them. Hopefully, it was just an off batch.


    I agree completely that Kaufman's hamantaschen are the best, and can report that it was indeed just a bad batch.

    I called Kaufman's this morning about the inferior hamantaschen I had purchased on Wednesday. The phone system is a bit confused, so it took a bit of phone tag until I could get to someone in the bakery area. The baker - Mr. Fingerhut - was out, but called back within a few minutes.

    He was as nice as could be and explained what went wrong. He apologized and said they had gotten so busy that they mistakenly baked some batches without proofing the dough. He told me that others had called about the same problem.

    Mr. Fingerhut accepted responsibility and offered to replace the bad batch, which I gratefully accepted. I won't be able to get to Kaufman's until Tuesday morning, and he said my hamantaschen would be ready then.

    This is an excellent example of how a business should deal with a problem. I have always liked Kaufman's, and my opinion of them is even higher now.

    By the way, I also learned that besides the "sweet roll" hamantaschen which Kaufman's bakes in-house, they also carry the "cookie dough" style which are purchased from an outside supplier. The sweet roll hamantaschen (some at Kaufman's call them the "big" hamantaschen) sell for $2.00 each, while the cookie dough type are by the pound (I think someone said $11.49/lb.).

    I am looking forward to Tuesday morning with great anticipation.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #25 - March 17th, 2011, 10:14 am
    Post #25 - March 17th, 2011, 10:14 am Post #25 - March 17th, 2011, 10:14 am
    This is a much delayed report. I should have followed up in 2008 to report that Kaufman's did indeed provide an excellent replacement batch of hamantaschen. As I said before, this is a fine example of how a business should respond to a problem.

    I was thinking about this today as after lunch at work, wife No. 1 & I will have a dessert of poppy seed hamantaschen from Kaufman's. (I purchased a dozen recently and froze the excess which we bring out one at a time.)
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.

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