Sunday, February 23, 2014

Swinging By Northridge for a Great Sandwich

Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant
19565 Parthenia St.
Northridge, CA 91324

I know I have written it before on these pages, but Katie has a big extended family. Most of her family lives in Burbank, and as is the case with most big families, there is always some event going on where they all get together. We almost could make weekly trips up the 5 Freeway if we were going to attend every recital, birthday, anniversary, wedding, engagement, or shower. So we have to pick and choose when we want to head up. Katie always bribes me by telling me we can eat at a restaurant on the way up north. Don't tell her, but I actually enjoy seeing her family. They are all really cool, and they seems to like me enough, so going to a restaurant in LA is just an added bonus.

This time we were going to a family party in Valencia, which is almost to San Francisco, or at least it felt like it as we traveled up the 405 on a recent Saturday afternoon. Luckily, there was no traffic going north, so we made it to Northridge in just over and hour and a half. What were we doing in Northridge you ask? Well, after checking out one of my favorite websites, TV Food Maps, I found a restaurant that has been featured on TV, that was in our general area we were heading. I was very excited to finally try Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant.

Brent's has been seen on, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network. In this particular episode they were talking about the best things they have ever eaten in a deli. Brent's was Marc Summers pick, for their corned beef sandwich. I remember watching that episode, and knowing that I would one day make it to Brent's to try their traditional deli sandwiches. Lucky for me, that day was today.

Brent's was taken over by Ron Peskin, and his wife, Patricia, in 1969. At that time the deli was floundering, but with the help of their family, they turned this restaurant around, and have even opened another location in Westlake Village. Brent's reminded me of OC's own Katella Deli in Los Alamitos. We got here between lunch and dinner, and still had a ten minute wait to get a table. We were told the wait can be up to two hours long sometimes, so we hit Brent's at the right time. The wait can give you a chance to peruse their 16 page menu. Yes, unlike Cheesecake Factory's massive menu, this one features no ads, and covers everything you would expect from a deli and more. Our table was finally ready, so we sat down, ordered, and waited for the food to hit the table. This is what came out for us.

In a lot of restaurants they give you a bread basket, at Mexican joints they give you chips and salsa, and at Italian restaurants you sometimes get bread sticks. So it makes sense that at a delicatessen that you get a couple slices of rye bread before your meal. Quite simply, this was some of the best slices of rye I have ever had. Pillowy soft, with that great rye flavor. I knew I had a lot of food coming out for me, but I could not stop eating this bread. I even took the leftovers home, and made a sandwich with it the next day. Make sure to save room for this bread.

Just like ordering chicken fajitas in a Mexican restaurant, you can always count on Katie to order Matzo Ball Soup ($7.75) in a deli. This was a big bowl of soup that definitely epitomizes comfort food. Lots of shredded chicken, a good amount of carrots, and a matzo ball the size of a tennis ball. The matzo ball was made well, the chicken was tender, and this soup was filling. Eating all this soup made Katie so relaxed, she felt like she just had an hour massage.

I did not want to be left out while Katie was eating her soup, so I got myself a Meat Knish (($5.25) to start. This was my first ever knish, so I did not really know what to expect. It's basically a large meatball encased in pastry crust, and served with brown gravy. Even after cutting this in half it kept its shape well. On its own, I felt the ground beef inside kind of tasted like an unseasoned meatloaf. The knish was much better with the gravy that was provided. For my first experience with a knish, I have to say this piqued my interest in this Easter European dumpling. This won't be my last knish.

Katie made the wise decision to have the Brent's Special ($12.95), which is a half a sandwich, her matzo ball soup, (which ended up adding a mere $2 to this special), and her choice of either potato salad or coleslaw. For her sandwich she ordered the Turkey Pastrami that made me wince when she ordered it. I'm not big on having turkey resemble other meats, but Brent's nailed this version. The turkey did have the pastrami vibe going on here. The turkey pastrami was freshly sliced, on the same great rye bread that we had before our meal. More than enough meat for two sandwiches was piled between the bread, which Katie added some deli mustard to for some extra flavor. She was also pretty ecstatic about the potato salad at Brent's as well. Nice mellow flavor, with an excellent crunch to this salad. Katie was completely satisfied with this meal.

When Marc Summers had eaten here, he had the corned beef, but I'm much more of a pastrami guy, so it was a natural that I would go with the Black Pastrami Reuben ($14.95). This traditional Reuben came with everything you would expect on it, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, on grilled rye. Quite simply, one of the best Reuben's I have had. The pastrami was great. sliced perfectly, where it was not too thin or thick, with no fatty pieces, and just a great melt in your mouth style meat. The bread did a great job of keeping everything together, and the cheese and sauerkraut worked well with the pastrami. If I had one critique about this sandwich, it would be that it needed just a little more Russian dressing on it, but that was remedied by asking for a side of it. To be honest, this was served with Coleslaw, but I was in such bliss over this sandwich, that I did not write anything in my notes about it. The coleslaw was good, but could not hold a candle to this sandwich. Weeks after, and I still think fondly back on this sandwich.

No, we did not eat this Four Layer Carrot Cake ($7.25) at Brent's, we got it to go since we still had to go to the family party in Valencia. I am a sucker for carrot cake, and this one was pretty good. For the most part the cake was moist, some of the end pieces were a little dry. I like the cream cheese frosting here. It was a light cream cheese, with just the right amount of sweetness. I just wish there was a little more of it. The cake part had a definite cinnamon/nutmeg feel to it. I liked this cake, but there are so many good choices at Brent's, I think I might have to try something else on future visits, like the Chocolate Eclair or the Cheesecake.

So after reading this review, you can probably sense my excitement with Brent's. People always lament that we do not have good delis in LA, and those people are wrong. We have great delis, but they are just so spread out, you need to look for them. Brent's is one of the great delis. Katie and I left Brent's completely satisfied. Everything we ate was very good, and the service we experienced on this visit was very personable. It's easy to see why they sometimes have hour waits for tables here. Some might think that the prices are a little on the high side, but you are paying for quality at Brent's, and I would gladly pay a little extra to eat a better quality Reuben sandwich. Plus, the portion sizes are really good sized here. Brent's Deli has really got me looking forward to the next time that we can visit Katie's family up in LA.

Out of five matadors, (because the mascot for Cal State Northridge is the matador), five being best to zero being worst, Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant gets 4 matadors.

To find out more information about Brent's Delicatessen and Restaurant, go to their web site here:

Brent's Deli on Urbanspoon

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