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May 20, 2010 09:51 PM

Am I the only one who doesn't get Brent's?

I know it's popular here, so I thought I'd give it another shot after being underwhelmed 15 years ago. And... I was even more disappointed today.

I ordered the basic pastrami sandwich, and at first bite I realized the sandwich would be memorable, but not in a good way. What I got was a nicely overstuffed sandwich that was full of fat and gristle - just as I had experienced the last time I was there. And please don't use the "well, pastrami's always fatty". Uh, no it's not. Forget about Brent's being in the same league as Langer's - it was below Canter's and Billy's, let alone Johnny's & The Hat. I just don't get how people here can slam Canter's yet give Brent's a pass. I feel I need to do a field trip to Jerry's to see which is worse...

The positive was that Brent's has a nice suburban Jewish deli vibe, the service was top notch and the cole slaw was excellent. The rye bread was good, but certainly not up to Langer's. The place was packed and it was before noon. So was it a fluke to have the same mediocre experience 15 years apart? And I really went wanting to like it.

I've said this here before, and I'm more convinced than ever: IMHO, the only reason that Brent's gets the props it does is simply because it's the only Jewish deli in that part of the Valley.

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  1. Actually, Abe's Deli is just a couple of blocks away from Brent's.

    Abe's Deli
    19626 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91324

    1. It's funny that you should post this. I grew up in LA delis and on a trip last month to Napa from OC, we pulled off the freeway specifically to try Brent's for the first time. I had breakfast- their corned beef hash (excellent) with 2 perfectly poached eggs, undercooked hash browns and a meh onion bagel. Service was friendly, but I thought the same thing. If I still lived 10 minutes from Nate N' Al, what is so much better at Brent's that makes it worth the drive? I know it's not fair to compare one breakfast to dozens of meals I've had at other places (Canter's, Junior's, even Billy's). Does anyone that lives close to one of the the places mentioned bypass them in favor of Brent's and if so, why?

      1. Gristle isn't OK (but would be unusual in a brisket flat, which is the cut they use for corned beef and pastrami, because the definition of a brisket specifies it be trimmed of connective tissue before sale) but fat is required and is part of the pastrami experience. Lean pastrami doesn't have the flavour. If you want lean pastrami, you can ask for it (it'll be cut from the end of the brisket further from the point, which is the leanest and least flavourful), but the default is to have some fat.

        I disagree with your assessment of it being below Canter's, mostly because Canter's can't seem to drain it and thus it turns all bread into mush, and Canter's actually defaults to lean pastrami for reasons I can't fathom.

        Also, not to nit-pick, but Brent's isn't a Jewish deli; if they were, there would be no cheese or dairy products on the menu. It's a "Jewish-style" deli, like pretty much all delis in LA.

        That said, if you don't like it, you don't like it and now you know and you don't have to go back. More for me, I guess; I love their pastrami. I bring it home with a loaf of bread and then I actually put the bread on my oven brick to crisp the crust.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          I am in total agreement with DU. The rye bread at Langer's may be a bit better than Brent's, but not by all that much. And the pastrami has never had gristle in my (admittedly sporadic) visits spanning quite a few years. I just drove out the other Saturday and arrived at 6 AM and had the corned beef hash with poached eggs and a side of toasted (dry - I don't want anything interfering with the taste) rye bread. Heavenly, by all my standards.

          1. re: Servorg

            Brent's uses a rye bread from a distributor. I have uses and ordered the exact same one. It is quite expensive and comes either sliced or whole so you can slice it to your preference.

            I agree with you though, there is not much difference in the bread. It is not like people are crowding into Langer's just for the bread. Both places, people are going for the deli meats.

            1. re: A5 KOBE

              My understanding is that it comes from Delicious Bakery in Northridge. When I want Rye, I go there instead because they sell it for less than Brent's does.

              Delicious Bakery
              9147 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

          2. re: Das Ubergeek

            "Also, not to nit-pick, but Brent's isn't a Jewish deli; if they were, there would be no cheese or dairy products on the menu. It's a "Jewish-style" deli, like pretty much all delis in LA."

            Did you mean Kosher and not Jewish?

            1. re: JAB

              Sure, whatever. A Jewish deli—as opposed to a deli owned by a Jewish person—would necessarily be kosher.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Das, as others here have pointed out and as pretty much any observant Jew will tell you, "Jewish food" is a designation that does not in any way mean kosher. If it did, for all intents and purposes there would only be one Jewish deli to speak of in all of Los Angeles, The Pico Deli. And due to the kosher prohibition against serving milk dishes with meat ones, no LA deli that serves cheese blintzes or latkes with sour cream would be considered Jewish.

            2. I have been eating at Brent's over 10 years and have never once been disappointed. I can't say that about Cantor's, Factor's, Junior's or Nate and Al's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wienermobile

                I feel the same way about Nate N' Al, 30+ years. I've never had a latke that comes close to what they serve. How are Brent's?

              2. Definetly a fluke you had two bad pastrami sandwiches at Brent's 15 years apart.
                I've had a couple real fatty pastrami sandwiches at Langers. So fatty I've had to sent them back.

                I don't know if it's a good indicator, but I've never seen such a high percentage of obviously overweight people as I see at Brent's.