Parkway Deli restaurant review: Always comfort

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It’s early Sunday night at the Parkway Deli & Restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a customer is sorry he couldn’t find one of the reasons for his visit.

“Where’s the pickle bar?” he said before even reaching his stand. A waiter says “covid” is responsible for his disappearance.

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Me? I’m all smiles. A chicken soup that tastes like it was made by someone and a $24 bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé, grabbed from the deli cooler on the way to the dining room out back, are excellent way to end a week and a welcome change of pace. For the past few months, I’ve eaten almost exclusively at new restaurants before my Spring Dining Guide, a celebration of what’s just opened.

It’s time to move on to an old one, to break bread with the past. Parkway, introduced by Lou Gurewitz in 1963, obliges. Named for its proximity to Rock Creek Park, the business is now in the hands of grandson Danny Gurewitz, 52, who took over the operation from his father, Stuart, after Stuart suffered a stroke in 2005 Danny, who moved to Texas when his parents divorced in 1979 but returned to Maryland to see his father and participate in the ride, is also the resident repairman, fixing toasters, installing WiFi and assembling appliances. exterior awnings as required.

The front of the operation is a small food and deli store that you walk through to reach the 110-seat dining room. A semi-visible grill and a cooking hint at what to expect on the plastic multi-page menu: chili, chicken, hash brown omelettes, salads galore, Reubens (and enough other sandwiches to fill a Potbelly), “Jewish fare” and dinners of the type reminiscent of home (roast turkey, stuffed cabbage).

Parkway’s chicken soup — with or without such a fluffy, undersalted ball of matzoh — I know it well. While working from home during the pandemic, my significant other knew that a takeout order from Parkway was pretty much all I needed to fuel me until show time (okay, a dinner review). Tender chunks or shreds of chicken filled the container with golden broth, lightly herbaceous and stuffed with a handful of sliced ​​carrots, celery, onions and egg noodles. Each spoonful had the power of a hug.

I can understand why the gentleman at my first dinner sitting at Parkway was upset about the missing pickle bar. “It gives you something to do while you wait for your food,” says Gurewitz. In the 70s and 80s, he says, pickles and sauerkraut were brought to the table. The welcome was later replaced with a do-it-yourself refrigerated cart and expanded to include pickled beets, bread and butter “chips” and more.

The dining room, painted in purple and aqua, is otherwise simple and practical. A strip of mirrors makes it possible to play voyeur from almost any table, and a carousel of condiments grants a multitude of wishes: salt and pepper shakers, of course, but also two kinds of hot sauce, three sweeteners, plus a plastic card promoting the happiness. hour specials.

The dinners, served from 4 p.m. every day, make me wish such sources existed. Slices of turkey roasted on site almost hide the onion cornbread stuffing that backs them. Just like Thanksgiving, the bounty comes with brown sauce and cranberry sauce. Diners choose a side; lightly seasoned coleslaw or creamy macaroni and cheese tend to round out my feast. The cabbage stuffed with ground beef and rice is, for some of us, as satisfying as a call from home, despite its overly sweet tomato sauce. And I love the crunch and juices of the fried half chicken. Alas, the idea of ​​liver and onions is better than reality: thin slices of veal liver that seem to have released all their juice on the grill make me console myself with the crispy bacon and roasted peppers piled on top of the entree .

“The menu is so vast that it’s impossible for the kitchen to do everything,” says a young waiter when we ask him how certain dishes are prepared. Staples, including minced chicken liver, knishes (both sweet) and fish and chips, are made by a food distributor. Does it necessarily matter, though? The beer battered cod is from a vendor, but the tartar sauce and coleslaw are scratch. In short, a tasty combo. Likewise, the thick applesauce you can get with crispy golden potato cakes smells like home cooking, but it’s made elsewhere.

Can we talk? The blueberry pancakes are tough and the hash browns inside the omelettes are lacking. I like the Reuben, though. Toasted rye bread containing minced corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, sweet Russian dressing and melted Swiss pushes all the right buttons. Ditto for the affable service and banter at the counter that comes from staff who know longtime customers. There’s something to be said for a place that has survived so many other attempts at ‘deli’.

When I later speak to Gurewitz by telephone, I am surprised by his candor. “We’re not trying to be top of the line, but we’re not bottom either,” he says. His focus at Parkway is consistency and value. Reliability is boosted by a chef, Rene Santos, 52, who started 28 years ago.

The pandemic recently forced Gurewitz to raise prices, a task he delegated to his managers because “I can’t justify charging $8 for a grilled cheese.” Still, custom sandwiches run around $10, no dinner is more than $19, and leftovers are almost a given. The finest in pastry is a moist slice of hot spiced carrot cake with the weight of a brick that can easily satisfy three forks. Don’t just take my word for it. The owner says he sells 20 of the 13 books a week.

Such comfort and abundance explain the diversity of customers every day. “We receive all kinds of people,” explains the owner. “Old, young, all ethnicities”, a reality confirmed during all my visits. In its early years, he says, Parkway was frequented primarily by nearby Jews; for a long time, says Gurewitz, the clientele has been a “cornucopia”.

Parkway may not be the deli and restaurant of your dreams. Your mileage depends on knowing the highlights of the kitchen. Again, the price is right, there always seems to be parking, it’s open three meals seven days a week, and Gurewitz thinks he might bring the pickle bar back very soon.

Parkway Deli & Restaurant

8317 Grubb Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 301-587-1427. Open: Indoor and outdoor dining and takeout 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Price: Sandwiches $7.49 to $16.99, dinners $14.49 to $18.99. Sound control: 73 decibels/must speak in a loud voice the toilets have grab rails but are too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs. Pandemic Protocols: Staff are not required to wear masks or be vaccinated.

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