I knew instantly that Kaidanoff's Broadway Delicatessen was my kind of place. The Rolling Stones were blaring on the sound system and there were Three Stooges photographs on the wall. In a corner stood a mannequin autographed by John Waters, Mink Stole and Patty Hearst.
The deli occupies a small storefront surrounded on three sides by the U-shaped Bertha's in the heart of Fells Point. The menu features a few salads and a bunch of deli-style sandwiches, many of which are burdened with Baltimore-inspired names.
Service could not have been nicer. One of the owners told me they take the food seriously, but not themselves. She was right: The food was almost uniformly good and prepared with obvious care.
Mushroom bisque ($2.95) was a special that day and terrific - loads of mushroom slivers in a subtle, milky broth topped off with a hint of sherry. A delicious bacon-and-mushroom quiche ($2.95) was fresh out of the oven and had a wonderful smoky taste and flaky crust. And the chicken-salad platter ($6.45) included big shreds of meat and sliced red grapes in a light dressing, over greens, cucumber slices and tomatoes.
The Mondawmin sandwich ($6.75) included sliced brisket, mushrooms, onions and munster on thick-sliced whole wheat. The brisket was only average, but combining it with mushrooms and onions worked well.
A smoked turkey-breast sandwich ($5.95) came on fresh rustic Italian bread and was topped with roasted peppers and hearty mustard. Most interesting of our sandwiches was the Lit' It'ly ($7.25) - thick slices of ham, not the thin, watery kind most delis foist on their customers, with a slab of mozzarella, all dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette.
Desserts included lemon squares and pie, as well as the deli standby, egg creams. But I opted for something you don't see every day: chocolate kugel ($1.50). For those who don't know, kugel is a noodle-based dessert. This one included slivers of almonds and chocolate sauce and felt like something you would make with your 7-year-old on a Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work.
While parking in Fells Point can be, um, a challenge, I have found that spaces are not all that hard to come by at lunchtime on most weekdays. So, check out Kaidanoff's.
Kaidanoff's Broadway Delicatessen
Waiting area: ***
Where: 732 S. Broadway, Fells Point
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Prices: Deli-style salads and sandwiches, $3.75 to $7.95; no credit cards
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *