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Let's Eat Out

Haven for the Hungry at Brent's

March 24, 1988|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

A friend and I had just finished an aerobic workout class and stopped at Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant for a cup of coffee.

So much for good intentions.

After checking out plates on other tables as the hostess led us to one in the back of the room, it seemed silly not to sample those huge portions that everyone else seemed to be enjoying.

It was 10:45 on a Saturday morning, and the long narrow room with about two dozen booths and tables and another dozen or so stools at a counter along the room's one side were jammed. Decor is casual--rugged beams and a few plants.

I soon was putting away most of their ultimate omelet--loaded with avocado, onions, mushrooms and Muenster cheese. The calories I'd burned in my previous hour of exercise were also quickly being overrun by a generous portion of home fries. My companion, whose goal is to find the perfect version of these potatoes, rates Brent's right up there with the best.

The bagels served are the fluffy style. Since I'd prefer not to get into a discussion of fluffy versus firm bagels just now, either order them or opt for the toast. You can also choose sliced tomato instead of the potatoes with egg orders.

Brent's serves breakfast any hour of the day. In addition to 16 different omelets, they serve hot cakes, French toast, all sorts of egg combinations and a slew of fish, cream cheese and bagel platters.

That's just the breakfast menu. There's lots more. Even on subsequent visits we could only scratch the surface. Sandwiches--special combinations, standard, hot, cold, char-broiled and grilled--add up to about 65 different choices. The triple-decker pastrami and corned beef and chopped liver, served on double-baked Jewish corn rye, were huge and delicious. Hot pastrami dip on a kaiser roll was equally good--flavorful, lean meat piled high and served with a choice of coleslaw or potato salad--both of which got a favorable nod.

Beyond that there are cold plates, salads and dairy dishes, dieter's plates and complete dinners. A short-rib special offered one Sunday night featured plentiful meat so tender it fell off the bones. The ribs had been braised with pineapple chunks and juice for flavor and came with a choice of soup or salad. A sweet-and-sour cabbage soup served as an accompaniment was "just like mom used to make," claimed my guest.

On one visit we couldn't help noticing two couples at an adjacent table, each sharing one of Brent's super buffets for two. They choose the "lox, cod, whitefish and cream herring served with cream cheese, potato salad, cucumber salad, coleslaw, garni, bagels and rolls, tomatoes and onions, orange juice and all the coffee you can drink." It looked terrific, and from their reaction it must have tasted every bit as good. A second choice of corned beef, pastrami, brisket of beef, chopped liver, turkey, Swiss cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, cucumber salad, garni, rye bread and two cups of soup is also offered.

I took home a doggie bag of half my meal one evening in order to save room to taste a couple of their desserts. The homemade dry-style cheesecake is dense and comes in several flavors. It's good, as is the homemade rice pudding topped with whipped cream. There are plenty of beverages to accompany meals, but no alcohol is served.

On an especially busy evening we experienced another nice touch. Chopped liver, tuna and egg salad were spread on rye bread and cut into appetizers for those of us patiently waiting for a table. Not that waiting for a table is worth it, but that sort of gesture shows your business is appreciated.

The slogan on the restaurant's catering van says, "Hungry people eat at Brent's." It couldn't be more true. Huge servings of great deli food at affordable prices--no wonder this restaurant has been around for more than 21 years.

Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant, 19565 Parthenia, Northridge; (818) 886-5679. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Lot parking. MasterCard and Visa accepted. Entrees from $2.95 to $11.45.

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