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Jun 21, 2013 08:21 PM

Another Pleasant Visit to Lenny's Deli - Tonight

They are really trying to please, and I have to admit I'm pleased generally. First of all, while the prices haven't really come down the sizes of things like the small soup is considerably bigger than it was before.

Secondly the wait staff is both friendly and pro-active in being there for you. My wife had forgotten to order her chicken and rice soup and we were sort of looking around for our waitress. Instead another waiter saw us looking, came over and went and got the soup for us.

I had the Reuben and I have to say, it was pretty darn good. I had it with pastrami and the sandwich, while not Brent's quality, was very satisfying. They have also increased the size of their side potato salad, so that's another plus.

Finally they have made the parking time longer before you have to pay anything and we got out of there without forking over the old $1.50 or whatever it was, even with validation.

Keep up the good work, Lenny (and Lenny came by the table and handed out a small sample of their lemon pound cake to each of us to try).

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  1. Anything close to edible is a significant upgrade over Junior's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chrishei

      This is precisely what I was thinking (and why I might just try Lenny's....).

      1. re: ilysla

        .... and an ever more significant upgrade over Jerry's.

    2. He really seems to be a genuinely nice guy.

      Really bummed he didn't stay in the Palisades, and left the deli to his partner, who promptly ran it into the ground and closed it unexpectedly, to the dismay of the employees and the community.

      But I hope he does well there, will have to stop by and get my pastrami fix there,

      1. Hot pastrami sandwich (full) at Lenny's (w/ 2 mini-potato pancakes) -- $13.50 + tax + full tip.

        Hot pastrami sandwich at Label's Table (alone, with pickles) -- $8.50 + tax + no or slight tip (counter service) -- a buck less if special sandwich of the day.

        12 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Do they leave all the delicious, flavorful fat or do they trim it all off?

          1. re: mucho gordo

            At Lenny's or Label's Table? At Label's Table, I almost always specify "fatty, not lean." I'm not sure it makes a difference. These are thin-slice, huge in the middle, drop off to the sides firm-crusted firm-textured commercial rye-bread sandwiches, with enough meat to easily make another half-sandwich and make what is left easier to eat. Sometimes the sandwich is moist enough for me, sometimes a shade too lean. You can sense the pepper. I believe it is a commercial pastrami product. Neither the bread or the meat is as thick-sliced as Langer's, but there is more meat. Pickles are crisp and good. In my experience, by far the best Jewish-style deli value at Label's Table. I am concerned about their business because I ask the owner at Pico who takes my order and he kvetches.

            1. re: nosh

              Back when I was in college, the head guy in the local deli was known among many students as "The Kvetchetarian" so I guess it comes with the territory.

              1. re: nosh

                How is the Reuben at Label's Table? I'm a fan of the kraut and the cheese and the grilled rye, not to mention the pastrami...

                1. re: Servorg

                  I'm not sure, Servorg. Not a kraut fan. Give it a try there -- but call before -- very small cooking area back there so while I assume there's a grill (gotta do eggs, right?) can't be certain.

                2. re: nosh

                  nosh - i like the pastrami at labels but i think the brisket is some of the best in town ... more "homemade" and fatty and juicy--with the free au jus a real treat...but nothing wrong with that pastrami, can also get au can also get the "new" pickles if you like... this place is a gem

                  1. re: jessejames

                    I had the brisket once when it was the daily special -- agree it was really good. I'll choose brisket when there are mashed potatoes and the braising liquid "gravy" involved, but for a sandwich I usually prefer pastrami unless there is a salt issue.

                    I am very impressed by Label's Table. The owner is solid, he has employed a really good crew behind the counter, never received a disappointing sandwich or pickle. Yes, a less unique pastrami and more ordinary commercial rye (though the crust is crunchy) than Langer's, but the sandwich is bigger, more stuffed, and a lot less expensive and convenient. A true hidden gem.

                    1. re: nosh

                      nosh - glad you can vouch for the brisket and i can't disagree with you on pastrami-- it's all good there and very fair prices. I never had that mash and gravy but sounds delish. they make a pretty good potato pancake too that they heat up in this little toaster over thing, and serve with sour cream and apple sauce...but nothing like sliding that badboy into a pastrami and swiss sandwich on rye either for the true fresser experience! owner is solid and gives as many pickles as we like with our sandwiches too.

                      1. re: jessejames

                        jesse, just so nyou know, the brisket served with mashed potatoes is usually at home, not from Label's Table. But the one time I had their brisket sandwich it was very good.

              2. re: nosh

                I love Label's Table but I don't think it's fair to compare a place like Lenny's to them. Yeah, the food is a better bargain...but Lenny's is a place you take people for conversation and to sit around and talk before and after you eat. Label's Table is a place to eat and get out...or take out. There's no table service, no comfy seats, no ambiance, no pleasant atmosphere and a limited menu of cooked items. I go to both but I wouldn't have a business meeting at Label's Table. I don't even like to sit in there and eat. I only get "to go."

                1. re: Hackenbush

                  We've been back to Lenny's again since I originally posted. I really like the effort they are making and the food, while not up to Brent's quality is nothing like Jerry's. We've taken to asking for a table in John's section. He had been a waiter at Junior's too. I'm glad that my local, full service and menu deli didn't disappear from the face of the earth. Lenny's will stay on our rotation.

                  A friend who was with us the other night ordered the 1/2 sandwich and soup. She chose the matzoh ball soup for an upgrade charge. That was a huge bowl of soup for the extra cost. I had the pastrami Reuben again. My wife had the meatloaf with mashed. I really like their Reuben. I won't say the meatloaf was the greatest, but it wasn't terrible and the beef gravy was good. I need to dig back into their breakfast offerings and see how those are faring.

                  1. re: Hackenbush

                    You should make clear that you are talking about the Label's Table on Pico, in West LA. They also have a store in Woodland Hills -- on Mulholland, right across from the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Calabasas -- that is a full-menu restaurant with both indoor and outdoor tables and also a service deli.

                2. J. Gold today on the state of Deli's in LA: "There are signs of a deli renaissance. Chefs like Micah Wexler and Andre Guerrero are learning to make their own pastrami. Langers is thriving. Umamicatessen is newish and good, and Brent's seems to be spreading out. And there's the example being set by places like Mile End in NY. That being said, the role of the deli is changing, and nobody's quite sure where it is headed - especially with the alarming mortality of the 90+-year-old first generation L.A. deli guys."

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: wienermobile

                    I read that too.

                    I have to tell you, although I am excited by the idea of a renaissance in Jewish deli (and let's get some serious appetizing shops up and running too, while we're at it), I'm less excited by the idea that what's probably going to ensure their survival is a full-on initiation into the Fucking Upmarket Brigade™ (FUB™).


                    The "second wave" deli demographic will likely shift away from servicing the broad swath of Los Angeles (black, white, latino, families, young and trendy, old and crotchety, moms, couples on dates, grandma's 80th birthday, etc.) and focus primarily on "hipsters" and "foodies", and the prices will rise in proportion to the number of tiny, stylish fedoras that come through the door. It's the way things tend to go these days. "Artisinal" will probably appear at least once on the menus. *sigh*

                    Still, if the choice is to lose the Jewish deli entirely or to modernize them into FUBs™, I choose the latter.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      This is what really seems to be working in NYC at the moment:
                      Would love a place like this in LA. Every Sunday night they do a Deli Chinese food night including a smoked whitefish Rangoon & Kung Pao Pastrami... sounds great too

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        Mile End deli is cool, but I bet it would be too hip for Mr. Taster....

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Well, I can tell you that seeing Jewish slang like "shmear" (spelled without the "c", no less) codified as a legitimate menu item makes my underwear bunch up in a most uncomfortable fashion.

                          But, as with many of the FUBs™, the food is often good. (Smoked meat outside of Montreal? Sure, I'd try that.)

                          It's the side of pretense-as-earthiness (and the often grossly to obscenely inflated price over the "ordinary" equivalent of whatever cuisine the FUB™ has co-opted) that gets my hackles rankled.

                          Mr Taster

                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                              In addition to the "shmear", they actually call it "challah bread".

                              What's with all the goyisms?!

                              For those that don't get why that's a problem, the goyish equivalent of "challah bread" would be "mayonnaise sauce". You just wouldn't say it, so it's especially weird coming from a Jewish deli that is projecting an image of old-world Jewishness.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                or, for those who hate mayo, AT"M" machine.

                                Based on simple math that surrounds a properly trimmed brisket, there's apparently no way to served "smoked corned beef" without charging FUB prices: especially if it's some type of sustainably produced beef. e.g.

                                Of course I'm preaching to the Tribe from the other side of the bench here...

                                1. re: TonyC

                                  fub is the fetch of the 2010s.

                                  i dont care how something is spelled or whatever its called as long as it tastes good.

                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                  Lighten up - they have to cater to all of us goyim who stop in. Yeah, "challah bread" is annoying but not everyone knows what "challah" means. You've got to remember that many, many people in L.A. come from parts of the U.S. with very few Jewish residents - they don't have a clue.

                        2. re: Mr Taster

                          i dont much care who a restaurant focuses on as long as the food is good.
                          and since i dont eat hats, im indifferent to the headgear of the patrons as well.

                      2. Of course, i think there's always room for some clever individual to just recreate the "old style" ambiance...pickles in barrels, tile floors, support that deli!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lapizzamaven

                          What happens when people recreate the old style (like Cole's PE Buffet downtown) is that the small fedora-wearing moustachioed ironics arrive, the prices go up, and the rank-and-file Angeleos leave.

                          Contrast the new PE Cole's to Philippe's (both the restaurant and their patrons) for a great example of the contrast between real old school charm and a manufactured one.

                          Having said this, the food at the new PE Cole's is better. But Philippe's is a better overall experience because it feeds the soul.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            i dont find coles or phillipes any more or less soulful than the other.
                            the mom jeans, ballcaps and fanny packs at phillipes dont affect my enjoyment of the food any more than the chapeaus and facial hair at coles.

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              B.S. Cole's was freaking awful before it closed (even you admit that to some extent). It is now beautifully restored (not manufactured) and serves the same type of food along with really good drinks. No, the drinks aren't cheap, but neither is the rent and neither was the restoration. You can still go in there and have a beer if you want and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. If people are afraid to sit next to someone who is younger than they are, that's their problem. It's comfortable and WAY less pretentious than almost any place in the neighborhood that has followed.