>> Mill Basin Deli | Eat the World NYC

18 January 2021

Mill Basin Deli

USA 🇺🇸

COVID-19 UPDATE: Takeout only, no outdoor dining. Their website contains an online ordering portal.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.

Old school Jewish delicatessans are an endangered species in south Brooklyn, and throughout the five boroughs. Last spring Avenue U favorite Jay and Lloyd’s fell victim to 2020's winding road, but carrying on the torch on a quiet block near the Kings Plaza Mall is Mill Basin Deli, which opened its doors in 1973. Their delivery fleet proclaim “Brooklyn’s Best Pastrami,” and on that count they may well be right.
As any past visitor to Katz’s Delicatessan will know, house-made pastrami and corned beef do not come cheap. Despite its outer-borough location, Mill Basin Deli is no exception to that rule. The hot pastrami sandwich ($20.95, below) comes with a cut option of regular, lean, juicy, or extra lean.

As is the tradition, the piled-high rye bread comes accompanied by a pickle (sour or half sour), mustard or Russian dressing, and the usual desultory coleslaw. In defense of the pricing, the sandwich is good for two meals, and the pastrami lives up to its billing.
Even better, perhaps, is Mill Basin’s corned beef, served here on an open-faced kosher Reuben sandwich ($22.95, below). For the not-strictly-kosher among us Russian dressing, though it might not be a favorite to most diners, finds its niche here, a perfect complement to the tang of the sauerkraut. Again, you might not want to attempt this whole thing in one sitting. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Apparently it can be Kosher!]

Potato latkes, knish, and other Jewish deli mainstays round out an extensive menu. Stuffed derma ($9.25), also known as kishke, is served in two large slices of sausage casing stuffed with a dense and rich bread stuffing, slathered in brown gravy. Though often made with matzoh flour, Mill Basin’s version tastes more of rye.

Kasha varnishkes with gravy ($5.25, below) consists of buckwheat and bowtie pasta dressed in that same thick gravy. It’s hearty, heavy, and bridges the transition of Jewish delis from inexpensive immigrant food purveyors to their current status as somewhat fancified relics of neighborhood tradition. Despite the twenty dollar sandwiches, this simple peasant dish helps remind diners of the pathways that brought this food to Brooklyn, and the humble origins of many of our ancestors, whose diets were likely light on the corned beef and heavy on the buckwheaand kishke.


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