The story of the Suburban House started in mid-1960’s when Sidney and Henry Cohen bought an existing restaurant on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville and decided to rechristened it as the Suburban House. Regulars in Pikesville soon started alternatively referring to it as the “S&H” after the first names of the owners. In 1985 Joe Stowe and Mark Horowitz bought the Suburban House and remain the current owners (Coincidentally, the initials of last name of both new owners are “S&H”!).
Following a disastrous fire in July of 2009, the Suburban House Deli re-opened a mile north in the Pomona Club complex a year later in 2010. As you enter, there’s a big deli counter for take out along with a large, brightly colored dining room with a mix of tables and booths behind it.
Suburban House has a very large menu that spans everything from breakfast items (served all day!) to classic deli sandwiches and kosher style standards. There are kosher style “appi-teasers” including chopped liver ($9), gefilte fish ($3), knish ($3), kiska ($4), and potato pancakes ($5). There are a dozen and a half sandwiches (most $10 which include pickle and coleslaw; extra chips or adding cheese will cost you a $1 while fries will cost you $2). The special “Pomona Club” sandwiches are “three stories high” and clearly for “BIG EATERS” and are mostly $12. There are a half dozen entree salads ($9-$12) plus a “design your own” salad starting at $9. There’s also kosher style standards like Matzoh Ball Soup ($6) and “Chicken in a Pot” ($11). The menu goes on and on but prices were surprisingly reasonable in context of what you get for the money!
Heads up on the menu: The Suburban House menu assumes that you’re familiar with Kosher/Jewish style food and in many cases, the menu wouldn’t give you a clue what the dish really is. If you’re not familiar with this cuisine, you might want to bring a “smart phone” with you to look things up or ask your waitress or have two friends like Marty and Joel who can explain it to you! The place mats on the table have a whole section of Yiddish words with potential definitions; Marty and Joel were laughing out loud reading these because they’re all jokes or puns which people who know the real meaning of the Yiddish appreciate!
Three of us started with the matzoh ball soup ($6) and quickly reached the conclusion that this was easily a complete lunch (or maybe even a dinner!) by itself! I’m no expert on matzoh balls but this one was tennis ball size, not overly dense and right tasty while the chicken broth with lots of egg noodles and was more flavorful and richer than I’d expect chicken broth to be! A definite “Thumbs Up!” that you’ve got to experience first-hand to appreciate!
Marty and Tom went deeper into the menu and tried some kishka and a meat knish. They seemed more enthused about those than I was. The meat knish was wrapped in a thin layer of a tasty flaky pastry but the inside to me tasted like unseasoned, sauteed hamburger meat. The kishka, an Eastern European type of sausage which Marty was enthusiastic about (“I love kishka!”), was bland and dense and didn’t much appeal to me. Marty explained that he prefers kishka plain but other people prefer covered in beef gravy.
For his main course, Tom got the house-made pastrami sandwich ($10) which comes with slaw and a pickle (Chips or Fries will cost you more!). Pastrami is not always known for being the leanest of meats, but this sandwich was not weighed down by any extra fat.
Marty got the Chopped Sirloin with mushroom and onions which looked and tasted right delicious (The portion was so big that he ended up taking half of it home with him!). He’s a big fan of the potato pancakes here and ordered them as his side dish (Some people like these with applesauce, others like them with sour cream – Suburban House gives you containers of both!)
John got the “Checkered Plate” Hot Roast Brisket of Beef ($12) and took Marty’s advice and got the potato pancakes and string beans as his side dishes. The brisket – though the portion was huge – proved disappointing; it wasn’t hot when it arrived and the beef seemed dried out. A plastic container of beef gravy was a gawd-send (but maybe as a result of polishing off his earlier bowl of matzoh ball soup, he didn’t take home the half of the beef that remained uneaten on his plate). While the string beans were a hit and seemed fresh out of the garden instead of out of a can, the potato pancakes seemed as dry or overcooked as the beef. John tried both the applesauce and the sour cream as toppings; he ended up liking the sour cream best. (Next time though, he’d be likely to order Marty’s chopped Sirloin – but the chicken in a pot and or triple decker deli sandwiches he saw on nearby tables looked mighty tempting too…)
Our friends Pierre and Joel decided to share a Caesar Salad ($9) and the New York style Smoked White Fish Salad which came with bagels and sour cream ($14). The portions were huge and following the bowls of Matzoh Ball soup that they started with, they could hardly make a dent in their salad courses!
The Suburban House has plenty of BIG desserts!
But we were all stuffed by this point and decided to share a small treat of some Rugelach which proved a very enjoyable end to our meal!
Outside of the couple of places left operating on “Deli Row” on Lombard Street downtown, the Suburban House is probably the classic sit down restaurant to eat at if you’re looking for kosher-style nosh around Baltimore. Portion sizes are vast (and we learned that bowl of Matzoh Ball soup at the Suburban House can be a meal – and an experience! – unto itself). While Marty is a big fan, John was a little more circumspect concluding that there are definite “Thumbs Up!” items on the menu but also some that could be more an acquired taste. Service was friendly and attentive. All in all, it’s easy to understand why the Suburban House has been a Pikesville institution for over 50 years!
FACTS: The Suburban House; Pikesville; 1700 Reisterstown Road; (410) 484-7775 ; http://www.suburbanhousedeli.com ; Closed Saturday; Open Sunday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm; Vegetarian Options; No alcohol; Take-out Deli Counter