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Heckman's Delicatessen - Ronnie Heckman and Marc Rosemond's Deli (with Bar) on Cordell Avenue in Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle

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Walked by at lunch and saw the Now Open sign out front. Turns out it was their opening day. Hope springs eternal when it comes to Bethesda delis, so I decided to give it a shot. It's pretty bare bones space, with a handful of tables inside and an outdoor space with a few plastic tables. But delis don't need to be fancy if the food is good. There the news is somewhat hopeful. The matzo ball soup is solid, with a big fluffy ball and broth that could have been a bit more flavorful but overall was very nice. My litmus test for delis is pastrami. Heckman's is solidly in the thick-cut pastrami camp and the good news is that it's undeniably juicy and well-balanced. But it's also uncomfortably fatty -- not the unctuous kind of fat that melts in your mouth but the kind that makes the sandwich hard to eat when it's stacked high. I ended up trimming some of the fat myself and then enjoyed the sandwich. Surprisingly, they didn't have pickles, which at a deli is unfathomable but presumably will be rectified soon. Service was somewhat confused, which is not surprising on day one. To be fair to the wait staff, I think the problems largely originated in the kitchen. Overall, I'm somewhat more hopeful than some of the other delis that have come and gone in Bethesda.

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Went for lunch today for the first time - had a pastrami on rye. I agree with Pork Belly's comments on the pastrami - good but a bit too much fat.  Although for an extra buck they'll give you lean pastrami (or lean corn beef). Definitely better pastrami than most, but I still think DGS is the best in town.  Happy to report that they now serve pickles (as many as you want in a bowl that will get refilled for free) and I was asked whether I wanted half or full sour. This is where they shine compared to DGS that gvies you 1 measly half sour with a sandwich and requires ordering a separate pickle plate (albiet an excellent pickle plate).  Meat is made or at least cut in house and pickles seemed homemade too - rather good traditional sours, if a bit extra salty.  Rye bread was rather good too. The sandwich was $11 and a rather generous portion of meat and small cup of coleslaw. Rather good value. Overall a nice addition to the DC deli scene.

What they need to work on is the service. It is odd you enter and are immediately in the small dining room with tables and a bar midway back. No one greets you and you don't know whether you are supposed to sit or wait to be seated. Then, the 2 bartenders and 1 waitress are running around nuts covering too many tables.  There were several tables at lunch, but the place was still only 2/3 full and so they should have been able to handle this lunch rush. Hopefully, they'll get the service issues worked out.

Regarding the value, if you are a real fresser (big eater) get the Russo's Tower which is this huge triple decker selection of deli meats and coleslaw that the guy next to me at the bar was thoroughly enjoying.

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Hadn't been here in ages, and was in the mood for deli.

Went by, and almost didn't go inside. The signage outside said Heckman's Beer and Wine (or something like that), and the front window was plastered with beer sale signs...couldn't even see inside. I has assumed they had stopped making food, and went into the alcohol business instead, but I decided to peak inside to make sure.

Seems they do both now. Still have some restaurant seating in the front and at the little bar, but now they have a small beer and wine store in the back. Honestly, the place kinda looks like a mess, like they can't decide what they want it to be at this point.

Again, I almost left, but decided to sit down and order lunch anyway.

And had the best hot pastrami sandwich I've had in the area. Period.

Perfect balance of lean and fat, lots of meat, great flavor, perfectly sliced, nice bread and mustard...everything exactly right.

I don't go here often, I don't know if it's always this good or if I just got lucky, but wow...I was really happy.

Incidentally, they also have home delivery of beer and wine. Good to know.

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