Pastrami from Chester's Smokehouse

Chesters Smokehouse pastrami sandwich

By Deanna Fox

You can smell Chester's Smokehouse in Albany before you can see it.

In most circumstances, one should take that as a warning. In this instance, I urge you to proceed with haste. That is, go immediately. Once the intoxicating smell of hardwood smoke draws you in, your eyes are treated to yards-long display of meat and cheese, the beneficiaries of all that smoke.

Of course, if you are a vegetarian, this place might not be for you (that smoked cheese, though...), but for the omnivores among us, the sight of all that meat -- from classic Kielbasa to custom takes on Slim-Jims and jerky -- is enough to have you whimper in pleasure. At least that was my reaction.

Needless to say, once I laid eyes on that pastrami sandwich, the cartoon AH-OOO-GA horn in my mind went off and my jaw went slack.

If ever there were a sandwich, this was it.

Chesters Smokehouse exterior 2016-April

The truth is, I've never been much of a pastrami fan. Many versions seem so heavily spiced, it becomes tough and hard to decipher as a piece of meat.

Chester's Smokehouse gets pastrami right. Tender to the point of near-melting, the meat is delicate while still retaining those classic qualities of pastrami: Smoky and laced with black pepper, allspice, and coriander. Subtle hints of mustard add a little bite.

Served up on Polish rye with Russian dressing and Swiss cheese (what a cosmopolitan wonder!), one has to nearly unhinge the mandible in order to eat the sandwich ($9). The thin slicing of the meat means that it doesn't take all day to chew each bite, but the sandwich itself could easily serve two. It was enough to turn me into a pastrami fan in the end. (The sandwich can also be served grilled for $11.95.)

Chesters Smokehouse grilled kielbasa

I also ordered the grilled kielbasa ($9.95) on a roll with sauerkraut which, much like the pastrami sandwich, is a herculean feat of eating. A huge link of the sausage, made in house, is grilled up and served with a side of mustard.

Chesters Smokehouse pierogi sauteed

The potato and cheddar pierogi ($7.95 for 6), served with sour cream, were an exemplary version of the dish. The cheese-to-potato ratio is on-point. And Chester's lets you choose if you want them steamed or sauteed. (Sauteed is the way to go, with onions.)

My only complaint with Chester's is that there's no place to dine-in -- the Albany location is purely a take-out eatery and small grocery. But the planned Chester's Smokehouse Restaurant near Hudson Valley Community College in Troy will solve that issue.

Chesters Smokehouse display case closeup

Chesters Smokehouse bulk pierogi

Polish food seems to be on the surge in the Capital District. Muza, Euro Deli, Dnipro, and now Chester's all offer Polish and Eastern Europe favorites. But few can make pastrami quite like that from Chester's. Cured in-house and smoked to perfection, pastrami is a sandwich classic, and the sandwich I had proved why.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

More Eat This:

+ Caribbean food at Trinbago
+ Mexican street corn at Ama Cocina
+ Egg in the Bread at The Breakfast Spot
+ Pancake breakfast at The Sap House at Stone House Farm

Find It

Chester’s Smokehouse
15 Watervliet Ave
Albany, NY 12206

Comments

Now I am super excited for the restaurant by HVCC to open!

Guess I know what I'm getting for dinner tonight! Looks awesome, I would have never thought to stop in that place.

I feel like Veruca Salt -- "I WANT IT NOW!"

I've tried to get excited about Chester's, but have found the offerings I have tried somewhat dull. Could be me or I just haven't sampled the right thing. I'm thrilled that they are doing well because too many of these businesses have been lost. I'll certainly give them another try - maybe the pierogi or pastrami will be the thing.
As to pastrami, anyone who is a fan should take a drive to the Helmbold's plant off Campbell Ave in Troy. Around the back of the building is a small market offering a number of their franks, sausages, wursts, etc including pastrami so good it will make you cry.
It's the New York State National Brand that they sell at Price Chopper deli counters for about $15/lb, but at a much lower price. Fatty or lean, take your pick.

Do they have nice fatty, pink, shaved thin corned beef?
I steam it a bit to heat , with thin sliced swiss, Hellman's mayo, with little dash of Heintz catsup, chopped garlic pickle, on fresh Ben & Bill's seeded rye, and ginger ale.
How's that Mary & Gregg?

I have not tried the pastrami at Chester's because I was so fixated on the house made sausage rolls, the olive loaf being my favorite. And the smoked cheese!

Catsup & mayo... on pastrami?!?!
If I worked at Chester's and saw you do that, I would hang a picture of you over the register next to the people who pass bad checks."No smoked meat for you!!"
I know, different strokes...

Chester's is fantastic. I left with half the store in my bag on my firs visit. Where have you ever seen corned beef hash pierogies? Yum!

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