Pure Pleasure

Brown’s New York Deli brings a delicious kosher slice of the Big Apple to Maitland.

The Jewish deli is as much a staple of the American dining scene as takeout Chinese food and the checkered-tablecloth Italian restaurant: kind of clichéd, frequently overlooked and often far from authentic.

New York City is the heart of true delidom, home to legendary places such as Sarge’s (my favorite), Second Avenue Deli (now on 3rd Avenue, go figure) and Katz’s, the 125 year-old restaurant made famous in When Harry Met Sally.

Local fans of fatty, rich pastrami can have what she’s having (to quote the movie) in a slice of NYC called Brown’s New York Deli.

Lauren Brown, owner, chef and matzo ball maven, had wanted to open a kosher deli since the go-to place for chopped liver, pastrami and half-sour pickles, Amira’s in Altamonte Springs, closed in 2009, leaving a void in kosher dining for the northern Orlando area (the Lower East Side restaurant in Lake Buena Vista and Kosher Grill on I-Drive appease the tourist area).  Brown’s Deli debuted in July 2012,  and its owner has brought family recipes and a New York attitude to the bright establishment tucked into the Maitland’s Village Plaza, with monochrome pictures of sandwich shrines such as Katz’s and the Carnegie decorating the walls.

Brown makes stuffed cabbage ($11.95), rolls filled with a meat and rice blend, from her grandmother’s formula, as well as sandwiches piled high with tender slow-cooked beef brisket according to her mom’s specifications. The desserts, from carrot cake and massive meringues to almond horns, are her own.

Kosher food abides by several strict Jewish dietary laws, which do not allow the consumption of certain food combinations (meat and milk together) or animals such as pork, shellfish and insects (although there are kosher locusts, apparently). The modern day value of the kosher label, and why many non-Jews seek out kosher food (according to online grocer Avi Glatt, 85 percent of people buying kosher products do so regardless of religion), is a matter of quality; the laws regarding kosher slaughter are so sanitary that kosher food producers are exempted from many USDA regulations. But the reason you’ll seek out kosher food: deliciousness.

At Brown’s, meats, aside from the brisket, are vacuum-sealed and shipped in from Israeli butchers, to abide strictly to kosher standards. Brown’s pastrami is fatty, dense and satisfying, the corned beef lean and hot from the steamer. Sandwiches come regular sized ($8.95 to $10.95) or 21-ounce NY massive for $18.95.

And there are ways of having it all at Brown’s. My recommendation for the Slider Trio ($11.95), with your choice of three sandwich fillings, is to request they skip the too-sweet challah bread rolls and bring a side of rye. And do order chopped chicken liver, dense and creamy and rich with caramelized onion. The “chicken in a pot” (12.95) will fill you up for a weekend—half a small chicken, served in a soup pot with kreplach (beef dumplings, sort of Jewish ravioli), egg noodles, vegetables and one of those delightful matzo balls.

One noticeable concession to kosher conventions is the vegan cheese option on the burgers. (“No dairy,” Brown says, “but we make a surprisingly good vegan cheesecake.”) In all other respects, Brown’s will satisfy your deli cravings. As my grandfather would say, they make a nice sandwich.

Categories: Reviews