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Bernie's Deli, Chain Bridge Road in Downtown Fairfax


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I just had lunch at a fairly new place in Fairfax City. Bernie's Deli is located on Rt. 123 about a block north of George Mason. You can find out details on the Web site here: http://www.berniesonline.com/

The guy who runs the place is actually named Bernie. He used to be one of the owners of Wagshal's in DC, but got tired of the commute and decided to open a deli near where he lives. Bernie's is set up to be a carry-out place with a few tables so you can also eat in the store. You order at a counter, pay at the register, and any sides are displayed in a case next to the register. There's also a display of cakes, bread pudding, cookies, cupcakes and all sorts of other things that I shouldn't be even thinking about, much less eating.

Most of Bernie's menu is sandwiches, as you'd expect from your basic deli, but the menu also includes some entrees that range from Beer Can Chicken to Shepherd's Pie. And just because the store is geared to carry out doesn't mean they give you short shrift if you eat in. The cooks will heat your sandwiches, prepare the entrees, and warm your dessert. One of the things that I had (but shouldn't have) is their bread pudding with bourbon butter sauce. Served warm with the sauce also warmed, this is pretty sinful, especially for those of us who aren't chocolate fanatics.

The sandwiches are seriously good. If you like what's on the menu, that's fine. If you want something else, that's fine, too. If they have the ingredients, they'll make it. The only downside is that a lot of people in Fairfax have found this place, so it can be crowded. Also, it closes at 7:00PM.

Bernie's doesn't make any pretext of being fine dining. This is a deli with tables, pure and simple. It's not as chaotic or as elaborate as a deli in Manhattan, but it's a nice place, the food is good, and Bernie's a nice guy.

The more I eat here, the better I like it. If you're anywhere near Fairfax, it's worth taking the time to look for Bernie's.

Wayne Rash

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I totally agree with the good words about Bernie's. My husband and I are addicted to this place because the sandwiches are the best you'll find in this area (yeah I know that's not saying much in Fairfax) and it's nice to find a non-chain sandwich shop these days. The staff at Bernie's are really friendly and accomodating even when this place is insanely packed on Saturday afternoons.

The deli classics are really good and if you are seriously hungry the NY size is well worth it cause the sandwiches are hugely packed. Oh and if you need a last minute dinner then the beer can chicken makes for fantastic take-out.

Just like Wayne said above it's not fine dining but well worth a trip if you're in the area.

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Based on these last posts, I'll give Bernies deli a try. I've been in the store three times, never for Deli sandwiches, but more for the Gourmet Wines, Cheeses, and Foods. Their selections in these three categories, based on my visits, were threadbare. I'll try them again for sandwiches, as I love good deli sandwiches.

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So today I took a turn for the wurst.

In other words, I went to Bernie's Deli in downtown Fairfax and noticed that today's special was bockwurst with saurkraut and provolone on a baguette. So I ordered that. But before I go further, let me digress.

I get to Germany on a regular basis. Each year I go to Hannover for a large trade show, and I almost always end up transferring to the tram at the main Hannover rail station. On the concourse level, near the stairs to Track 4 is a sausage stand that sells bockwurst, baurenwurst and bratwurst, along with Herforder beer. You can get a sausage on a baguette and a liter of beer for around five Euros. I mention this because this stand delivers what are perhaps the finest sausages in all of Europe. They are always perfect, the skin browned and crisp, the sausage juicy. This place is the best against very stiff competition.

Well, the sausage stand in Hannover is better than the sausage at Bernie's Deli.

On the other hand, the sausage and its accompanying saurkraut and mustard are as good as I've had elsewhere in Germany, notably in Frankfurt, where I've spent far too much time and eaten much too much sausage. This means that the sausage at Bernie's in darned good. And it costs about the same, too, except Bernie wants his money in Dollars, so it's about 7.00 bucks. I'm a little dubious about the need for the provolone. Good sausage doesn't need cheese.

I also had Bernie's tomato and mozzarella salad, which is served with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, onions and red peppers. This really rounded out the meal, but certainly wasn't traditional. On the other hand, it was a seriously good version of this traditional Italian dish.

The only thing lacking is that you can't get Herforder beer at Bernies. Of course, you can't get it anywhere else in the US, so I won't hold that against them.

Overall, Bernie's Deli continues to delight in its standard menu and in its forays into interesting specials. And I keep driving back there for a quick meal. It's worth the trip.

Wayne Rash

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We tried Bernie's yesterday and I may be hooked.

I got carryout after a doctor's appointment.

The Super BLT, at 8.99 was 8.99 worth of awesomeness. Fresh crisp bacon on three slices of bread I am already craving another one.

The meatball sub is one of the better renditions that I have had. Maybe even better than the Italian Store. The meatballs were excellent, as was the bread. The only thing the sandwich needed was grilled onions and peppers.

I also got the chili which was a solid choice. Their other soups looked good as well.

The only disappointment were the deserts. Teh red velvet cake and the chocolate "frog" only ranked as average. They may have been sitting a while.

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Count me as another fan of Bernie's as a solid mid-day option in downtown Fairfax.

Today for lunch, I ordered from the "Wagshal's Famous Sandwiches" section, and got a #25, Roast Beef with Slaw and Russian Dressing ($8.49 for a "NY Size" (which is a half-pound of meat)) and a #125, Pastrami with Cheddar and Tomato ($8.99 for a NY Size). The Roast Beef was ordered cold, and the Pastrami was ordered hot, both on sourdough bread. As decent as the roast beef was, the pastrami is what you want if you choose between the two: It's an excellent sandwich - perhaps not quite as perfectly formed as the Reuben pictured on their website, but not far from it.

Interestingly, they have a little sign up that says the price of tomatoes has recently tripled (to $50 a case). Thus, there's a 35-cent surcharge per sandwich for anything with tomato, with the addendum that prices should ease back to normal in mid-April with the new crop.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Oh and if you need a last minute dinner then the beer can chicken makes for fantastic take-out.

Not today it didn't. I arrived around 2:15 PM and got the last bird in the heat lamp. It took about ten minutes to get a Half Chicken ($6.53 with tax) prepared, and it was just awful - the driest chicken I've had in memory. The rub on it reminded me (not in a bad way) of the seasoning on BBQ potato chips. The skin was nice and crispy, but the problem is ... so was pretty much everything else!

I'm certain this was a poor representation, but based on what I had today, I can't compare this to the succulent, juicy bird I tried at Wagshal's last year, and that's kind of what I was hoping for. No stuffing, no drippings, nothing but dessicated chicken that would be shamed by something from Safeway. This is why people inject.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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