The many good reasons to check out Miller's Deli in the Greenspring Shopping Center are written on the restaurant's wall. The big menu lists items that can carry you from breakfast through dinner. And liver and onions ($9.99), well, Miller's has that, too.
The deep, foamy plastic plate felt like it weighed five pounds. On it, buried under easily a heaping cup of translucent onion strips, were two fairly thin slabs of fried liver, about six inches long and 4 inches wide.
But let's talk mashed potatoes, which came with the platter. They're relatively light, with maybe a bit higher water content than typical restaurant mashes. They tasted like they were boiled and hand pulverized, leaving bits of un-pureed potato. A huge mound of them accompanied the liver and onions. Along for the ride was a good half pint of dark, thick beef gravy.
Good gravy needs only a vehicle to transport it. Miller's mashed potatoes do the job perfectly. So do the onions. The kitchen sautes them enough to heat through and bring out the see-through quality while maintaining their crunch. Buttery and mild, the onions are just as good with gravy as without.
The only part of the meal that didn't get gravy action were the green beans. Cooked to melting tender, like the rest of the meal, they smacked of homemade, and even more than the onions, brought a light touch to the otherwise heavy, rib-sticking dish.
Then, of course, the liver.
No question about it, this is a familiar rendition. No delicate butter blend to soften the iron-rich tang of unadulterated liver. The organ meat that has been the bane of childhood for so many who could never acquire an appreciation for this homey classic is done up proud at Miller's, with no fuss and no frills. It's liver the way mom intended you to eat it. The dry finish was exactly what you'd hope for.
I've never acquired a love for liver. But I'm glad I got reacquainted with it at Miller's. It's a busy deli with the clubby feel that lots of regulars lend to a place. Walk in the front entrance and turn left. (The liquor store is on the right.) The staff greets regulars by name. You order, pay and take a number to your table, where your dish is brought to you.
The dining area is spacious and bright. With its shiny checked table tops and sliver-speckled vinyl seats decking out wide, comfy booths, it looks something like a 1950s-era diner in pristine shape. Along with its extensive menu of prepared platters, sandwiches, salads, soups, knishes and so on, Miller's purveys meats and other deli goodies by the pound.
Liver and onion fans won't want to miss it. For the rest, same. Miller's does comfort and deli food awfully well.
Where: 2849 Smith Ave., Baltimore
Contact: 410-602-2233, millersdeli.com
Lunch hours: Full menu served 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday
Lunch entrees: $4.99-$9.99