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Brent's - cabbage soup!

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  • Debbie Jun 18, 2004 12:28 AM
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My husband and I were in Northridge late this afternoon, and decided to stop at Brent's for dinner on the way home. We'd only been to Brent's a couple of times before.

Hubby ordered a grilled sandwich - brisket, Ortega chile, grilled onion, and muenster on sourdough - it's totally his type of sandwich and he said it was fine.

I had 1/2 corned beef sandwich and a cup of the most delicious hot cabbage soup I have ever eaten. You know how some cabbage soups are that magenta color, like bottled borscht but watered down some? This one has a nice brown color with only a slight reddish tint. The soup was really rich tasting, like it was made with a good stock, with a distinct sweet and sour tinge but not overly sweet. The soup was laden with nice pieces of cabbage and some tomatoes. But what surprised and thrilled me was that it was chock-full of bite size hunks of beef...like pot roast, or stew beef (chuck?). The beef bites were extremely tasty and tender, and not at all fatty or gristly. I don't think I'd ever had cabbage soup that came with beef. In fact, I ordered it because it seemed like a lighter option than mushroom-barley or chicken-kreplach or chicken-matzo ball. This cup of soup that came with my "lunch special" dinner of 1/2 sandwich, cup of soup, and plastic thingy of coleslaw, was practically filling enough for dinner by itself. A bowl would certainly make a fine meal on a chilly night.

Now the not-so-good part: the corned beef on my sandwich was sliced pretty thin, not too fatty but not too flavorful either. It was quite disappointing, just blah, although the rye bread was good. The half-sours were nice.

I'll be back for the cabbage soup.

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  1. I was at Brent's today, had a pastrami & swiss cheese on rye topped with cole slaw & thousand island dressing (#13). Fantastic. I've never been to Langer's but hard to imagine how it could be much better than this.

    4 Replies
    1. re: markn

      Why put any cheese with either pastrami or corned beef? That is at least one person's heresy, mine!

      1. re: rmc

        Right you are.

        1. re: rmc

          Same reason you put cheese on a hamburger, or a turkey sandwich, or roast beef sandwich etc......BECAUSE IT TASTES GOOD.

          One or 2 slices of swiss cheese isn't exactly going to overpower a mound of pastrami anyway.

          1. re: markn

            that's what some folks say about putting mayo on sushi.
            lot's of sushi bars seem to have no problem with it.
            can't say i agree about the cheese OR the mayo--it certainly changes the taste of the dish tremendously.

      2. The meat was probably beef short rib flanken. Many cabbage soup recipes (including mine) call for it, but rarely do you find it except when it comes from a grandmother's kitchen.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jack Flash

          I've been searching, it seems forever, for a cabbage soup recipe like you've discribed. Would you please post?

        2. You're right about the soup, it *is* delicious. However, I've had it twice but will not have it again. Despite its wonderful ingredients it is WAY too sweet for my taste. Just a matter of personal preference. The soup is one of their signature dishes and I'd urge others to try it.

          10 Replies
          1. re: TomSwift

            The cabbage soup at Brent's is great, but the last time I was there I found it a bit too sweet as well. Sweeter than it used to be (or maybe it's me :))

            1. re: AndieCat

              It might be the cook - we recently had chopped liver from Brent's, and it was definitely sugared up!! Sweetened chopped liver?? Blech!!

              1. re: LBQT

                Never cared for the chopped liver at Brent's, just not savory. Years ago I used to bring home Canter's chopped liver in 4 pound increments.

                1. re: Chino Wayne

                  Nothing beats home-made..........

                2. re: LBQT
                  t
                  Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                  Not sugared up...they use caramelized onions.

                  And we love their chopped liver!

                  1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                    Carmelized onions are made with sugar

                    1. re: LesThePress
                      t
                      Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                      I am fully aware of that. The statement I replied to made it sound like they added sugar directly into the recipe.

                    2. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                      The sweetness of the cabbage soup is not from caramelized onions alone -- it's incredibly sweet, like dessert. There's definitely sugar added.

                      1. re: AndieCat
                        t
                        Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                        My reply was regarding the chopped liver, not the cabbage soup.

                        The soup is most definitely sweetened!

                  2. re: AndieCat

                    I didn't find it overly sweet. I do tend toward a sweet tooth and crave sugar, whereas I never crave salt, so maybe I'm less sensitive to a sugary taste.

                    I don't remember noticing any onion shreds or tasting anything overtly oniony in the soup at Brent's, but I guess they could have disintegrated in the broth. If someone asked me if caramelized onions have sugar added to them, I would say no. They are simply onions cooked down very slowly over low heat in oil and/or butter.

                3. I am not aware of any sweet and sour cabbage soup recipe that does NOT have sugar as an ingredient. It is called "sweet" and sour for a reason.

                  1. t
                    Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                    You hit on a couple of the stars of the menu, the Brisket Ortega Melt and that soup. Next time go for black pastrami instead of corned beef.
                    I've always been a corned beef fanatic since I was a kid, but their black pastrami changed that, especially the Reuben with it. I'll eat that even for breakfast, with some homefries (ask them to add grilled onions).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                      What is black pastrami?

                      I figured that pastrami was more of a specialty at Brent's than corned beef, given pastrami's prominence on the menu. Just on the plain sandwiches section there were two kinds of pastrami sandwiches listed above the corned beef. I actually like pastrami better than corned beef, but have found as I've gotten older that sometimes pastrami doesn't like me, although I'm not exactly sure why. I don't think it's the spices since I can eat other peppery food as well as much spicier food with no gastrointestinal consequences. And normally I have a reasonably cast-iron stomach. I think it may be the fattiness, and "lean pastrami" is an oxymoron.

                    2. Thank you!

                      We were at brent's for brunch yesterday and I ordered the cabbage soup -- something I never would have thought to do had I not read your post the other day.

                      The cabbage soup was outstanding -- as was most everything else. Definitely sweet, but that's hardly a bad thing, espsecially in getting my 5 year old to try some, which he did and then asked for more!

                      The pastrami sandwich I had was the best this side of Langer's, but I agree the corned beef was too dry. Most other things (went with 10 people so got to try a lot of things) were fine, especially the lox and the eggs. The cobb salad was so-so, but I guess every place has their specialties.

                      Thanks again. I only wish Brent's would open a branch in West LA, there is a surprisingly big need for a good -- or even decent -- deli there.

                      1. I'd like to echo the "too-sweet" posts regarding the cabbage soup. WAAAAAAAY too sweet. and isn't it supposed to have some sourness, too? it was good, and reminded me in flavor to my mother's stuffed cabbages (i've never ordered this in a restaurant, seeing it as some sort of a betrayal) but just way too much sugar in the soup.

                        1. I dont think that carmelized onions have sugar in them, if I am wrong someone please let me know. I always think the cabbage soup is overly sweet at Brent's. I must think that they add sugar to the soup.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: SIMIHOUND

                            Carmelization brings out the natural sugars in the onion. Sugar is not added although additional sugar may be added to the final dish.l

                            1. re: SIMIHOUND

                              Even though their menu says "Cabbage Soup", it is sweet and sour cabbage soup. The "sweet" is sugar and the "sour" is from citric acid put in the soup.

                              1. re: GummyBear

                                I love sweet and sour cabbage soup! In case anyone else is a fan and would like to try to make it themselves, here's a link to my recipe on food.com:

                                http://www.food.com/recipe/sweet-and-...

                            2. RE: your corned beef... yes they do slice their corned beef and pastrami too thin for my liking. First of all, I much prefer their pastrami, it is much more juicy and savory. But if you are a stickler for corned beef, just ask them to slice it "extra thick" or "hand sliced". It is much better for my taste.

                              See attached photo of my favorite Brent's Sandwich, the #13. It's Pastrami on rye with cole slaw, russian dressing and swiss cheese. I ordered this "hand cut". Sometimes I even order it "EXTRA thick" and it's even thicker, closer to how it's served at Langer's in DTLA or Katz's in NYC.

                               
                              1. To LesThePress;

                                FYI, true Caramelized Onions do not contain sugar. The sweetness is caused by the caramelization of the sugar inherent in the onion by a long, slow process of cooking over low heat. True, some kitchen speed up the cooking time time by adding sugar, but the result is not the same.
                                CR