When someone's evasive or indecisive, they don't Reuben: They waffle. The Reuben sandwich, with its neat strata of bread, sauerkraut, meat and cheese, is a symbol of forthrightness. Few foods are so straightforward.
But at Dot's Deli, the brilliant butchery shop that Miles James last year opened in Fremont, the very good Reuben is one of the fussier items on a menu dominated by meat. Dot's is at its best when it's trafficking in stripped-down presentations of animal flesh, no bread or cheese required.
The apex of its meat achievements comes secured in casing, and the friendly counter staff will happily sell you all the take-home sausages you can carry. If you stick around though, you get the sausages the way James intended them. A traditional worker's spread of sausages, sauerkraut and dark beer is the ideal end-of-the-day repast, even if your job involves more typing and faxing than digging and hauling (And if you show up during happy hour, the plate's priced at $10.)
James makes his sausages in Dot's kitchen, using fresh, local meat: Comparing these sausages to inferior links crammed with filler and leftover tidbits of ritzier dishes is like comparing a Akira Kurosawa film to a made-for-TV movie. The typical array of sausages includes merguez, Polish, bratwurst and spicy Italian, all of them distinguished by thoughtful seasoning that complements rather than competes with the meat; threads of fat that intensify flavor without dissolving into grease and sturdy casings with a satisfying snap. They're honest, and they're terrific.