A dear friend of mine always questions my obsession with deli. She frankly doesn’t get my passion for a good bowl of matzoh ball or kreplach soup, nor does she share my appreciation for a real pastrami or corned beef (I’m not talking Boar’s Head) sandwich on rye. As a Jew, it is so engrained in my culture and my history. Too me, it’s like questioning a Mexican’s love of tacos or an Italian’s love of pasta. Deli is simply a part of my DNA, as well as My Little Foodies’. Big A’s first food was a half-sour pickle; perfect for soothing the gums of a teething baby. Little A was always a fan of matzoh balls. Jewish deli, however, is not about the food, but is also about community and history. Therefore, it is an understatement when I say how excited our family was for the opening of The General Muir, Atlanta’s newest appetizing and delicatessen, at Emory Point across from the CDC near Emory University, my first Atlanta home.
Named after the WWII refugee transport ship that carried West Egg Café’s Jennifer Johnson’s maternal grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, to New York in 1949, The General Muir “sails” into town captained by Jennifer and husband Ben, West Egg Café’s Shelley Sweet, and Chef Todd Ginsberg, formerly of Bocado.
Atlanta was in desperate need of some good deli, and The General Muir is a more modern take on this beloved cuisine, whose presence has significantly diminished over the years. The bright, modern, subway-tiled space and long bar (yes they serve cocktails) that runs from the deli (quick take-out) to the dining room is more reminiscent of a French brasserie than the typical crusty-boothed joints that might come to mind.
The menu features classics like matzoh ball soup, which is spot-on. The fluffy ball sits in a delicious, tastes-like-it’s-straight-from-my-grandmother’s-kitchen broth with perfectly chopped celery and herbs: pure perfection. Little A took delight in two perfectly salted potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream, and my husband was beyond excited to eat a Reuben, in which the corned beef was cured in-house (pretty sure they are the first deli in Atlanta to do so). The smoked hash, featuring crispy hunks of house-cured pastrami sautéed with potatoes, cabbage, peppers, and caramelized onions, formed a sumptuous mound under the most perfectly cooked and seasoned sunny side eggs. Pastries such as the cake-like black and white cookies and rugelach stay true to old-school form.
Then there are the deli main stays to which Ginsberg has added that extra touch/refinement/twist. The communal pickle bowl is replaced with a rainbow collection of veggies, including spicy carrots, “station-style” red cabbage, pickled radishes and beets, new pickles, and bread and butter pickles. More unique offerings include a vegetarian Reuben (a meatless deli sandwich? Oy, vey!) made with coriander rubbed and smoke beets appeases those who don’t salivate at the thought of everything that is wonderful about deli (e.g., chopped liver, pastrami, and corned beef), and open faced homemade kettle boiled bagels with nova or lox, a schmear (a spread of cream cheese for those that don’t speak Yiddish), but topped with more distinctive ingredients such as salmon roe, grapefruit, or avocado.
Even with some delightfully modern twists on the menu, The General Muir delivers a tremendous tribute to the important gastronomic and cultural tradition that is deli. We look forward to many more meals with family and friends in a place that makes us feel right at home.
Matzoh Ball Soup – $6.00
Corned Beef Reuben – $12.00
Smoked Hash Plate – $10.00
Potato Latkes - $5.00
Assorted Pickles – $5.00
Avenue A (nova, schmear, avocado, grapefruit, cucumber, onion, dill) – $11.00
1540 Ave Place, B-230
Atlanta, GA 30329