Saturday, August 23, 2008

Delis Across the East are Deli-cious

by Erin

Over the past week and a half, I have had the pleasure of eating at two of my favorite delis of all time: The Parkway Deli in Silver Spring, MD, and Rein's New York Style Deli in Vernon, CT. Here is their story (cue Law & Order music):

Deli #1: The Parkway Deli, Silver Spring, MD

The Parkway Deli is a place the BCD fam has been going for at least 10 years. One of the reasons it's great is because it has a huge menu, which includes lots of traditional Jewish eats that you can't find every day. These include latkes, blintzes, knishes, borscht, stuffed cabbage, kasha varnishkas, herring, and chopped liver. (Bonus points if you know what all those things are!) Since the BCD parents come into DC a few days a week for work, I met them in Silver Spring for dinner one night, and we were all in the mood for some good MOT (Member of the Tribe) fare. The place was hopping at 7:00 on a Tuesday night, but thankfully there was no line. (We've gone for brunch before and had to wait in a line that snakes through the little deli in front of the restaurant for 30 minutes or more.)

Mom got us a sweet table in the back corner and we were immediately given sodas and menus. Another good thing about our table: it was right near the pickle bar! The pickle bar is one of the best things about The Parkway - great variety of pickled veggies, all of them delicious. We got some half-sour pickles (Mom's favorite), full sours (my favorite), and pickled tomatoes (Dad's favorite), along with some sauerkraut and pickled baby corns (so tiny!) to nosh on while we waited for our food.

We ordered some latkes (potato pancakes) as an appetizer. They were made with cooked potatoes (not shredded raw potatoes, as we sometimes use when we make them at home), so they were soft and creamy on the inside, but really crispy on the outside. They were served with BOTH sour cream and applesauce - just how we like them.

Blurry Latkes

Then we each ordered sandwiches. Traditionally, deli sandwiches are so large, so tall with layers of meats, it's laughable. Mom got the "Deli Twins," a "small" corned beef sandwich on an onion roll, and a "small" pastrami sandwich on an onion roll. Dad ordered his usual: hot corned beef on rye with mustard.

The Twins

The Classic: Corned Beef on Rye

And I got my usual, one of my favorite sandwiches ever: the Reuben. I don't remember ever ordering the Reuben at The Parkway before (it's been so long I don't think I liked Reubens the last time I was there), but I knew it'd be good because I knew they had good corned beef. I was right: the sandwich had lots of delicious, salty corned beef, topped with crunchy sauerkraut and Russian dressing, and a generous portion of melty Swiss cheese. The whole thing was sandwiched (haha) between two pieces of crispy, griddled up pieces of rye bread. Mmm...heart attack on a plate.

Instead of getting regular fries (though they did look good), we ordered something that looked tasty and different: the "eggplant fries." These turned out to be strips of eggplant that had been battered and fried, much like french fries. They were crispy on the outside (though probably could have been crispier for my taste) and soft on the inside, but not mushy. I'm not a big eggplant fan but these were good and a nice alternative if you are not in the mood for fries (c'mon, like that's EVER happened).

Eggplant Fries

Deli #2: Rein's New York Style Deli, Vernon, CT

Last weekend, Xani and I visited our grandfather up in Manchester, CT, where BCD Dad grew up. It was great to see Grandpa and rehear all the wonderful stories about our grandmother and BCD Dad and his siblings when they were growing up (e.g., Grandpa bought Grandma a brand new sewing machine for their anniversary; BCD Dad (then about 3 years old) somehow got an ice pick (!) in hand and destroyed the sewing machine). While up in CT, we had to stop at Rein's New York Style Deli, a stop we've made on almost every trip to Connecticut since we were born. Rein's bills itself as a NY style deli and while I am no Brooklyn-ite like the BCD parents, I would have to say it's pretty good deli. Like Parkway, Rein's has plenty of Jewish eats on their menu (including a smoked fish platter, a favorite of the family), along with a deli/bakery in the front where you can buy treats to go. Also like Parkway, Rein's is usually packed at all hours of the day (especially around brunch when we used to go), and this day was no exception. It was about 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon, and while we were able to get a table right away, there were only a few tables open in the large restaurant.

We were STARVING at the time, so we noshed on the pickles our waitress gave us and quickly ordered a few starters while we decided what we'd have for the rest of our lunch.

Half sours, fo sho!

We ordered latkes (can you tell I like latkes?) with sour cream and applesauce (of course) and pickled herring in cream sauce.

Pickled herring in cream sauce

As the story goes, when Xani was a baby, our Grandma Claire (Mom's mom) would bring us a jar of this stuff and Xani LOVED it. Yes, the baby loved pickled herring, what can I say? She still loves it and so we ordered it. I, on the other hand, had never even tried it (sounded too weird and gross) until that day, but since I am starting to really like fishy things, I gave it a go. And you know what? It was good! It was not too fishy at all, and it was salty and sweet and the fish was really tender. I guess that 3-year-old Xani knew what she was doing after all!

After our starters, we ordered our traditionally humongous deli sandwiches. Xani got a Triple Decker sandwich with pastrami, corned beef, and chopped liver on rye and I got (shock of shocks) a Reuben!

Triple Decker

The Reuben

Xani's sandwich was great with the two cured meats along with a pretty good chopped liver (not as good as BCD Mom's though!). My Reuben was also excellent due to the high quality of the corned beef and of course, because of the fried up rye bread! To be honest, I can't say whether the Parkway or Rein's has the better Reuben - they were both really awesome and I don't see why they both can't be winners (cue After School Special music).

Two great meals in two great delis with my wonderful family. What could be better? More latkes, perhaps.

Latke + applesauce + sour cream = DELI-CIOUS!

Happy MOT eats,



  1. ARRRGGGGGGG!! I hate you for posting these picture. I have a massive craving for half sours, which are not at all to find in the Netherlands.

  2. MOT - I've never heard that before but you can trust that it is now in my lexicon.

    Ah Erin - eating pickled herring - welcome to the dark side grasshopper.

  3. That is so awesome that you visited Grandpa! I need to do that too soon. I miss Rein's...

  4. I'm going to start bringing pickled herring in cream sauce to the office for breakfast. Maybe then no one will bother me in the mornings!

  5. Y'all are Jewish? I thought you were greek!

    Hey Uncle, even I know MOT! And I am well waspy!


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