Reubens served with a smile

Miller's Deli stands out for its sandwich and its service

May 09, 2002|By Robin Tunnicliff Reid | Robin Tunnicliff Reid,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There are a number of reasons why there's often a line of customers at Miller's Delicatessen in Pikesville. It's got a large menu of decently priced hot and cold food. The dining area is far more decorative than the average deli, with sparkling retro booths and large posters of old movie stars (heavy on Marilyn Monroe).

And Miller's has great Reubens and cheerful service - the only two things that really matter to me.

Reubens here boast plenty of thinly sliced, lean corned beef, devoid of stringy fat that can make chewing such a sandwich a chore instead of a treat. Add generous yet not sloppy servings of sauerkraut, Russian dressing, melted Swiss and you're about to feast upon a fine example of a classic.

Don't want the Russian? No problem. The busy, friendly folks working the food line behind the counter ask first, no matter how fast they're moving and how hot the grills may get.

"You're No. 16," said a cook as he slid my order slip across the counter. "Same as your age, right? Have a seat, relax, and we'll call you when it's ready."

Such grace under pressure was impressive. So was the kind, patient manner in which another worker leaned over to answer the questions posed by my 10- and 5-year-old dining companions.

Not ordering at least a few traditional Jewish dishes at a place like Miller's would be sacrilegious. So we started with - what else? - matzo ball soup. We appreciated the pungent chicken broth, the kind that can cure colds. But we couldn't work up quite as much enthusiasm for the large, bland ball of matzo dough submerged in the center.

The potato pancakes were excellent - six lightly fried discs about 5 inches across served with sour cream and applesauce on the side. The shrimp salad sandwich, loaded with small, sweet shrimp, also was excellent.

The chicken-finger platter was pretty straightforward, as was the hot-dog platter. The best parts of both entrees were the sides of thick, crisp french fries. They, in fact, were the best side dishes of all, far superior to watery baked beans and dull cole slaw.

Most of the few desserts are displayed near the cash register, along with an array of Dr. Brown's and Stewart's sodas and Snapple teas. We grabbed the prettiest sweet - an eye-popping hot-pink, green, yellow and chocolate layer cake with excellent fudge frosting. The next-best dessert was a homemade rice pudding that was low on rice and heavy on raisins and custard (my kind of treat). Bringing up the rear was a moist yet tasteless pound cake.

If none of Miller's desserts appeals to you, there's one other option, and it's perfect for the hot nights ahead: The deli is a few doors away from one of the area's few remaining Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.

Miller's Delicatessen

Where: 2849 Smith Ave., Greenspring Shopping Center, Pikesville

Open: For breakfast, lunch and dinner daily

Prices: Appetizers $2.99 to $6.25; entrees $1.75 to $9.95

Credit cards: AE, DC, D, MC, V

Call: 410-602-2233

Food: ** 1/2

Service: *** 1/2

Atmosphere: ** 1/2

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