I first sank my teeth into one of Brent's Deli's Reuben sandwiches about ten years ago.
I loved it, but I never went back. After all, Brent's is on the other side of the universe in Northridge. (I think I regard the San Fernando Valley in the same way that many Westsiders view the San Gabriel Valley: a long way to drive for a non-destination.)
And I figured that crowded and popular delis like Brent's would be around forever. In spite of my Reuben infatuation, I was in no hurry to return.
But that was before my "restaurants might kick the bucket before we do" epiphany. So when my deli-loving friend suggested Brent's as a "half-way" location for a lunch meeting, I bit.
I circled around the mini-mall parking lot five times before snagging a space. At 11:30 am, Brent's was already crowded.
The bustling deli was filled with families: elderly mothers breaking rye bread with middle-aged sons; grandmothers, mothers and toddlers sharing a table and chocolate cake; doting dads spoon feeding cabbage soup to adoring daughters. Brent's, like a treasured family brisket recipe, is passed from generation to generation.
And as I once again sunk my teeth into the Black Pastrami Reuben Sandwich, I could see why. The thick layers of succulent pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing between grilled rye live up to the menu's promise: the sandwich melts in your mouth.
I don't think I'll wait another ten years to return.
Brent's Delicatessan and Restaurant
19565 Parthenia St.
Northridge CA 91324
Open daily 6am to 9pm