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Brents Deli, Northridge

Greetings LA hounds. I'm coming down from the Bay Area at the end of next week and going to a concert at CSUN. I thought dinner at Brent's would work for the time frame/locale. BUT--I ate there on a visit a few years ago (had the Black Pastrami Reuben as recommended by several posters at that time) and was frankly underwhelmed. Too much gristle on the sandwich and I was disappointed with the service provided to a me as a solo diner.

I'm willing to give it another try, but thought I'd stick to more basic fare. I love Katz's pastrami sandwich (I have yet to revisit Langers, haven't been there since I lived in LA 30 years ago and it's on my bucket list for future trips to LA) but don't want to risk disappointment. I'm also considering an order of latkes, since Hanukkah will just be over on that date. My adult son will be with me as he lives in Santa Clarita and is occasionally in that part of the Valley so thought I'd get Brent's into our restaurant rotation.

Any thoughts, recommendations? I can't get great deli in Santa Clarita or even where I live, and really want to love Brent's. It would definitely feed my soul, as well as my stomach, if you get what I mean. My health might suffer in the short term but what the heck.

Many thanks!

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  1. I have had that sandwich 20+ times, and only one time did I ever get gristle. Maybe yours was just a bad, one-off experience. I had that happen to me at Oinkster. Everyone raves about the pastrami and I got a gristle sandwich. If you aren't willing to take another chance on it (understandable), I find their breakfast menu to be delightful.

    Last week, my mom got a spinach and mushroom omelette that looked like something out of a magazine. And she said it tasted as good as it looked.

    I had the Brent's Special Eggs Benedict, which is regular EB with avocado. It was a total splurge and worth every bite.

    The chili cheese omelette is solid, as well.

    My mom is fan of their burgers. They always look amazing and juicy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jelly71

      I love the Black Pastrami Reuben having had that sandwich maybe thirty times. If you want a classic deli sandwich try the sky high corned beef or pastrami. You have your hot meats piled on the bread with cole slaw and Russian dressing (without cheese please). If you want other suggestions try the short ribs, sweet and sour cabbage (beef not chicken), Romanian steak is delicious also. If something isn't right please tell someone so they can make it right for you.

    2. In my humble opinion Langer's has the best pastrami in LA... but Brent's is the best all around deli in LA. I order the Black Pastrami Rueben often and have never had a problem. That's a great sandwich. They are very nice people…did you send the sandwich back? Did you tell them about the problem? Brent's also has a great smoked fish plater with Lox, BBQ (Cod that they make themselves) White Fish and Herring with four bagels. Serves four. A real treat and under & $45. Great Cabbage Soup too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        No, I didn't send it back or report it, shame on me. I just kind of slunk out of there, figured it was a one-off and I was just unlucky. Haven't had a chance to go back til now. I really prefer a basic pastrami sandwich but had to order it after all the recs I read.

        Is there anything else really exceptional for dinner? The smoked fish platter looks good, I haven't had anything like that in a long time. I'll be hungry after my drive down I-5 that afternoon.


        1. re: alwayshungrygal

          Dinners at Brent's that I like:

          Potato Latkes
          Handcrafted Potato Pancake lightly fried to a deep golden brown . Served with Rich Sour Cream and our own Cherry Apple Sauce.

          Latke Blintz Sampler

          Grandma Eva's Noodle Kugel
          Sweet Jewish Casserole made with thin Egg Noodles, Rich Sour Cream, Low-fat Cottage Cheese, Cinnamon and Spices. Topped with a crunchy Cinnamon Crust. A warm generous serving.

          Stuffed Kishka and Farfel
          An old family recipe . Ground Fresh on the premises and grilled to perfection . Served over Tender Farfel.

          Beef Stuffed Cabbage or
          Chicken Stuffed Cabbage
          Our special blend of Fresh Ground Beef or Chicken. Wrapped in Tender Cabbage Leaves and covered in a Delicious Sweet and Sour Sauce.

          Fried Kreplach with Grilled Onions (2)
          Our own Homemade Kreplach, fried to a deep Golden Brown and grilled with White Onions.
          Knish (Meat, Potato, or Kasha)
          A Homemade Dough Dumpling, stuffed with a choice of Meat, Potato, or Kasha. Served with a side of Brown Gravy.

          Mish Mosh
          One Kreplach and One Matzo Ball, served in Chicken Broth with Carrots, Rice, Noodles and Chicken.
          Cup of Soup and Dinner Salad Combo

          Pastrami and Turkey Dip
          On a French Roll topped with Grilled Onions, Swiss Cheese and Au Jus on the side.

          "Chicken in the Pot"
          A huge portion of Braised Chicken, Boiled Potatoes and Braised Carrots served in a crock with Matzo Ball and Kreplach (allow 25 minutes).

          Sweet and Sour Short Ribs
          “Falling off the Bone” Served with Kasha Varnishkas and Coleslaw. (Served after 5:00 pm.)

          Corned Beef and Cabbage
          Served with a Boiled Potato (allow 25 minutes).

          Hot Corned Beef or Pastrami Plate
          Served with Potato Salad and Coleslaw.

      2. Brent's is good, but Langer's pastrami is, as they say in the Michelin guide, "worth a special journey" or three stars. Brents's would be either one star, or "very good for its category" or a "bib gourmand - good food at moderate prices.".

        If I'm visiting another city, and I always shoot for the stars.

        BTW, if you do go to Langer's, just get the pastrami on rye (and guldens spicy brown - frenchs is for amateurs) - avoid all other combinations (like #19). While they are excellent, I'd leave those for future visits. And the crinkle cut fries are tasty too.

        3 Replies
        1. re: manku

          Does Langer's even have French's mustard?

          1. re: JAB

            I don't know, but I've seen too many delis with it...abomination!!!

            1. re: manku

              They don't have French's brand but, they have Morehouse yellow mustard on every table right next to the Gulden's. The horror!

        2. Yes, you should give them another try. You must have been there on a bad day. I frequently eat at Brent's solo and have never had bad service. I've never had the Black Pastrami Reuben, but I often have just a regular Pastrami on Rye with steak fries. I've never had a problem with their Pastrami--it's really great.

          1. I get my pastrami fix at Langer's but when my jones is for a hot corned beef on rye, I travel out to Brent's. That sandwich
            is spectacular. Your teeth glide through the rye and the beef, (warm, full flavored delish ) just melts in your mouth. The half sour pickles are also on point.

            Their cb on rye reminds me of Corkey's & Lenny's (Cleveland , Ohio) excellent cb sandwich.

            I can also highly recommend the matzo ball soup and the split pea soup is crazy good!

            They have Fox's U-Bet for egg creams but unfortunately not once have I been delivered a properly composed egg cream at Brent's.

            Enjoy the show!

            1. You can't get great deli fare where you live?

              Is it that difficult to drive into SF? Tommy Joynt is at least as good (I'd argue better than) any of the deli's in LA. It's fare superior to Brent's, that's for sure.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Stravinsky

                Tommy's is a different kind of place dude.

                1. re: jessejames

                  Indeed. It's a much better kind of place.

                    1. re: Stravinsky

                      Coles used to be similar. Phillipes prob closest here.

                  1. re: Stravinsky

                    Absolutely can't get great deli where I live. As some have surmised, I'm referring to the great Jewish delis that are traditional East Coast style. There used to be a great place when I first moved up here in 1984 (owned by a Chinese couple but they were faithful to the traditional recipes) but they sold and the new owners didn't put the same effort into it, and it moved and eventually closed. IMHO there just isn't anyplace within 30 miles of where I live that compares to Katz's, Langer's or Brent's, or the late Eddie Saul's (used to go there a lot when I lived in the San Fernando Valley) or Junior's. There are a few places that are good, but not truly great.

                    1. re: alwayshungrygal

                      Sadly, it's the same here in Vegas; no deli or bakery to compare with Brent's or Bea's. In fact, this Thursday we will enjoy some 'goodies' imported from Bea's and delivered by family joining us for dinner.

                      1. re: mucho gordo

                        I tried Weiss Deli once and it scratched my deli itch pretty well. Have you been?

                        2744 N Green Valley Pkwy
                        Henderson, NV 89014

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Haven't heard of the place but, I'm on it. Will check it out now. Henderson is about 30 minutes from here but, if it's worth it, I make the trip. Thanks for the tip, servorg.

                      2. re: alwayshungrygal

                        Have you been to Saul's in Berkeley? I prefer their pastrami to Brent's as it is smokier. Saul's isn't as old school as Brent's, but the food is really good.

                        1. re: ebethsdad

                          No, I've not been and shame on me. I so rarely get to Berkeley and again, I don't like to go alone. I will get there eventually. Thanks for the response.

                          1. re: ebethsdad

                            I spent years in Berkeley before moving to LA about 10 years ago and often went to Sauls. I find the pastrami more tender and flavorful at Brent's/Langers, heck even Cantors. Admittedly I don't recall the smoky flavor. I'm going to some basketball games at CAL in January so maybe I'll check out Saul's again rather than my usual haunts like Top Dog or Lo Coco's down the street from Saul's.

                            1. re: granadafan

                              I hope I don't lead you astray. Please report back after your visit.

                              1. re: ebethsdad

                                Haha, no problem. I like Saul's and would enjoy going there for old time's sake.

                          2. re: alwayshungrygal

                            So you're interested in the atmosphere of the place, not the food?

                            I wouldn't have any worries going to Brent's then. Enjoy!

                            1. re: Stravinsky

                              No, I'm definitely more interested in the food than the atmosphere. I'm not sure why you got that from my post. There are certainly places with great atmosphere but the food doesn't equal that aspect. I'm thinking of places where you find the alta kockers, if you know what I mean. Great pastrami, corned beef, traditional East Coast Jewish food. I've got a good mind to try the kishke too. I haven't had any in years.

                        2. I live not-too-far and go to Brent's fairly often. Sometimes even the best gets it wrong. Try it again. Also, I think their brisket is about the best I've eaten, anywhere. I prefer the hot brisket sandwich, and for dessert try the black and white cookies.

                          1. Make it a pastrami weekend. Try both Brents and Langers. Just be aware that Langers isn't open at night or on Sunday.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: granadafan

                              I'm trying to get to Langers, but it's been a challenge. I really don't want to go there alone. The only reason I went to Brents alone was I was there for a few days connecting with someone who was visiting, and I stayed in a motel in Sherman Oaks, so I had most of my meals in the Valley. Since my son moved to Santa Clarita in July 2011, all of my visits have been centered there and I venture out as best I can, with most meals in Valencia and nearby.

                            2. OP said, "I really prefer a basic pastrami sandwich."

                              Twice I've asked the servers at Brent's -- once at each store -- what the difference was between their black pastrami and their regular pastrami. Each time the server immediately responded, "None."

                              That's not to say that Brent's pastrami isn't delicious; it is. It ain't Langers delicious, but it's delicious nevertheless.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: ozhead

                                Correct. The Black Pastrami is just the name that they use on that Ruebun. It's the same tasty pastrami that is used on everything at Brent's that has pastrami in it or on it .

                                1. re: ozhead

                                  Thanks for the clarification, I was wondering that myself.

                                  1. re: ozhead

                                    I'm still confused. Why have two names, then?

                                    1. re: JeMange

                                      The Black Pastrami Rueben is a sandwich that they are very proud of (and should be, it's great) so they came up with a special name. The name caught your eye…right?

                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        I've had the sandwich before, actually and enjoyed it very much. I'm still not sure why the two names.

                                        It's like Katz's suddenly deciding to randomly call their pastrami "chartreuse pastrami" on odd numbered days. Huh?

                                        1. re: JeMange

                                          I just checked the google machine, and apparently 'black pastrami means 'New York Style' , whereas 'red pastrami' signifies 'New England Style'. One site said that the black variety includes molasses in the black pepper rub.

                                          Still doesn't explain why Brent's doesn't call _both_ of their sandwiches 'black pastrami'...

                                  2. Serious eats on The Black Pastrami Rueben " “Everyone orders the Black Pastrami Reuben, even when they want to try another sandwich, because there is no escaping …"

                                    Food GPS on the Black Pastrami Rueben "The thin-sliced pile of beef is lean and subtly spicy and the accoutrements help to create an incredible balance."

                                    LA Weekly’s food blog “Squid Ink” ranked the top 31 sandwiches in Los Angeles. The Black Pastrami Reuben is slotted at number 8. “There are dozens of sandwiches on Brent’s massive menu, but the iconic sandwich is the Black Pastrami Reuben,” the blog writes.

                                    CBS Los Angeles recently compiled a list of the best Reubens in Los Angeles, which includes The Black Pastrami Reuben. “The Incredible Black Pastrami Reuben at Brent’s is the sandwich to order,” the website writes. “The hot sauerkraut that comes along with the sandwich is both steamy and a bit spicy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. OP here. My son and I went on Friday night and overall the experience was much, much better. Specfics:

                                      I had pastrami on rye; very generous portion of meat (delicious but Katz's is still better) and the rye was a bit soft and not really sturdy enough for the meat. The waitress anticipated my need for more bread and brought extra before the sandwich came so I made another half sandwich. It was accompanied by a small cup of potato salad (tasty, portion too small), it was very filling. A no-frills sandwich that satisfied my craving.

                                      My son ordered a turkey melt (with avocado, onion and cheese) that came with steak fries; he enjoyed it very much. The fries were good and was a substantial portion.

                                      We shared the mini latkes appetizer (6 pieces) which came at the same time as the sandwiches, I would have preferred that something listed as an appetizer come first but it wasn't a crisis. I prefer my latkes shredded, not ground like potato meal, and it soaked up more oil that way. The applesauce and sour cream were (again) in small cups and paltry portions, even for an appetizer. Good thing I used only the apple sauce and my son only used the sour cream.

                                      Service was outstanding, very attentive throughout the meal, and the busperson was definitely on it. Beverages (soda for both of us) were constantly refilled, dirty plates removed promptly and takeout boxes were brought unbidden. The check was dropped off before we had a chance to think about dessert but the server did say to take our time and let her know if we wanted anything else. We were pretty full and needed to leave anyway.

                                      All in all, I'm glad we went and thanks to everyone for the encouragement. It is a shame that so many of the classic delis are disappearing. The new ones, while updated and using artisan bread, organic items, etc are interesting but clearly not the same as the old-style places. I think there is a place for both but sadly are still missing from many areas of the country.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                        Agree that the side coleslaw or potato salad is just way too skimpy.

                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                          Thanks for your report back & glad you enjoyed your return.

                                          1. re: wienermobile

                                            Next time try their house made smoked BBQ cod. So good.