The Dish: The Rachel
Is nothing sacred?
Suburban House Restaurant at 1700 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville offers its Reuben with a choice of corned beef, pastrami, roasted turkey or brisket. Can it be a Reuben without corned beef? Shouldn't there be a name for kraut, Swiss, rye, 1,000 Island dressing and pastrami?
The Rachel ($9.79) is essentially a Reuben with slaw instead of kraut. And it's called the Rachel.
After the first sampling of Suburban's Rachel, I stopped caring what they call it.
Their corned beef was sweet, pink, sliced thin and stacked high — not too lean and just firm enough to keep from crumbling. The coleslaw made me happy I picked the Rachel over the Reuben both for a change of pace and a different taste. The slaw was crunchy with a creamy sauce that combined remarkably well with the prudently modest dollop of 1,000 Island dressing. A mild Swiss cheese melted over the top helped tie things together. The rye bread was grilled golden brown to a brittle crisp, offering an excellent texture diversity.
The coleslaw served on the side was creamy but not overly rich, an inviting veggie sample with a hint of pepper that didn't seem all that redundant with the Rachel.
As with the Reuben, Suburban House will build your Rachel with corned beef, pastrami, turkey or brisket; likewise its Cloak & Dagger, which seems a lot like the Rachel without the Swiss cheese.
Suburban House serves burgers along with an exhaustive list of specialty sandwiches and an option to build your own. Very few menu items rise above $10. A raft of soups, including a "soup of the moment", expands Suburban House's variety and hominess.
Frankly, I didn't expect Suburban to mess up a corned beef sandwich. They got everything right. On the other hand, it's not that hard to do. The big deal is the corned beef. It's amazing how many places do get this simple sandwich wrong, usually by serving tough, dry beef. So it's always a relief to find a shop that won't settle for second rate fixings.
A better deal than the Rachel might be the Reuben special. Suburban's Reuben sells for the same as the Rachel, but for twenty cents more, the kitchen throws in a handful of onion rings or fries with the Reuben. I opted for the Rachel anyway and my server and I both wondered why Suburban doesn't offer the same special with the Rachel. Something to do with cole slaw vs. sauerkraut?
Suburban House occupies a large corner of the Pomona Square strip complex. It's one of the prettier spots along this stretch of Reisterstown Road. Flanked by tall trees, it's something of a retreat from the garish and endless commercial thrum that keeps the thoroughfare hopping and often jammed.
The service matched the distinct family feel of the place with a helpful and welcoming staff.
Where: 1700 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville
Contact: 410-484-7775, suburbanhousedeli.com
Lunch hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily
Lunch entrées: $5.99-$12.99