1201 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland | 407- 960-6999 | brownsnydeli.com | $$
It’s difficult to describe how different my two experiences were when I lunched at Brown’s New York Deli in Maitland. The first time was frantic, tense and fraught with gaping holes, both in the service and the fare. The second visit was completely smooth, marked by satisfying and flavorful dishes and gracious service.
Brown’s fills a need. It’s an all-kosher establishment, adhering to the strict cleanliness standards set by Jewish kashrut rules, something Orlando has been sorely lacking since the closure of Amira’s Kosher Deli five years ago. This place harkens back to classic New York Jewish delis, featuring photos of NY mainstays like Lindy’s, Katz’s, Russ & Daughters and Carnegie Deli.
The homage and respect is there, and Brown’s effort is valiant, but falls short. The pastrami sandwich ($10.95) isn’t piled quite as high (though the price is pretty lofty); the brisket ($13.95) isn’t quite as meltingly tender.
The stuffed cabbage ($5.50), though, is a show-stopper, filled with savory rice and ground beef and appropriately drowned in thick, sweet tomato sauce. The long-cooked raisins lend just the right sweetness. The complimentary refillable dishes of half-sour pickles and coleslaw that appear almost instantaneously upon being seated are a happy surprise. An appropriately gigantic, fluffy matzo ball bobs in a bowl of luxuriant broth ($4.25).
Brown’s also offers a wide array of rotating house-made desserts, including linzer cookies crunchy with almond meal and raspberry jam ($1.25) and giant meringue cookies that alternate between crisp and marshmallowy ($1.25). Pick up a loaf of fresh, eggy challah for French toast or sandwiches ($3.85).
The main difference between my two experiences was the hour: The first time we visited during peak, standing-room-only weekend brunch, and the second was at an off-peak hour. Forewarned is forearmed: It’s worth waiting until the place is pretty empty to skip the harried service and get down to the nosh.
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