By MATTHEW F. LALLO and Special To The Baltimore Sun
May 20, 2012 | 3:33 PM
The Corned Beef Factory in Highlandtown is just over two years old, a mere infant compared to the revered decades old corned beef establishments that have made Lombard Street in downtown Baltimore a destination for generations of corned beef and pastrami lovers.
But the Corned Beef Factory is proof that you don't need almost a century of experience to deliver a great sandwich. The formula for constructing this iconic and delicious sandwich is so simple that it is amazing to see how many restaurants get it wrong.
The rye must be soft and fresh, the corned beef tender and warm, the cole slaw creamy and the Russian dressing just the right proportion of ketchup and mayo. Put a wedge of crispy pickle on the plate, grab a bunch of paper napkins and you're set.
The Corned Beef Factory does all of the above very well indeed, though my sandwich came to the table unadorned with, surprisingly, no traditional pickle garnish — curious as there are deep fried pickles on the menu. No matter, this is a terrific sandwich.
It is no surprise that Corned Beef Factory founder Eric Oppel worked at Attman's, one of the oldest and most venerable establishments on Lombard Street for almost 10 years, apparently plotting all the time to someday open his own place. (He said he started as a slicer and worked his way up to manager.)
The restaurant has a modest, clean storefront. There are five small tables to the left as you enter. Face the counter and there are three huge blackboards above, listing the entire menu. At the top of the middle board in bold white chalk are the corned beef and pastrami selections.
This sandwich may spark debate as to which is the best in Baltimore, but there is no doubt that it is hands down the best value. My corned beef on rye with cole slaw weighed in at a hefty ¾ pound and cost $5.99. You can also get a Reuben on toasted rye for $7.39 or a triple decker, the Eastern Avenue, with its signature corned beef, streaky pastrami and Swiss on three slices of rye for $9.39.
While most places specializing in corned beef have Dr. Brown's cream soda on hand, the Corned Beef Factory does not. They do, however, stock Stewart's refreshing Orange & Cream soda, a creamsicle in a bottle.
If this sandwich is any indication, the new kid on the block can hold its own.