The great charm of Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop on Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street is its artful blend of old and new. The decor doesn't seem to have changed since the place opened in 1929, but the new sandwich, advertised on a sidewalk billboard, is "The Spitzer"--fresh hot tongue on rye.
Owner Josh Konecky invented the sandwich soon after the story broke; he says it was a way to get tongue on the menu.
I stopped by Eisenberg's for lunch today and walked to the far end of the counter. There, I sat down on a stool and ordered tuna on rye with lettuce and a lime rickey. Eisenberg's is one of the few places left in New York where the staff don't get confused when you order an old standard like a lime rickey. Or an egg cream.
But one of the best things about my lunch was the man who waited on me. Severiano-- eight years working at Eisenberg's, a whirlwind of energy switching back and forth from English to Spanish, took my order and shouted to another counterman, "tuna, lettuce, whiskey down."
Eisenberg's counter may have the comfortable look of the past, but don't let that fool you. "The Spitzer" is a reminder that the smart, tart New York sense of humor endures. And Severiano's easy use of "whisky down" for toasted rye bread proves that lunch counter slang has reached a new generation of working New Yorkers.