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Best Bites: Ben & Bill's Deli

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595 Shelburne Road, Burlington 657-3673

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When I was a kid, Jewish delis scared me a little. Looking into the case, I was nose-to-nose with the piles of chub and their cured, dead eyes. The old-world smells seemed somehow unclean. This is why they hate us, I thought.

Since Ben & Bill's opened in the Burlington Price Chopper, I have been facing my fears, and then some. Two days after eating a Hot Brisket sandwich ($8.49), I am still swooning. The well-marbled but otherwise lean meat tastes almost creamy, especially in a light bath of Russian dressing. The warm, seeded rye on which the meat lies is baked in-house. It's mild but for the musky crunch of the caraway seeds.

Something you really don't see every day is the stuffed knish ($7.49). Before grilling up the potato pocket, Ben & Bill's stuffs it with your choice of pastrami or corned beef. My pastrami was thick-cut with pockets of fat that melted into the mashed-potato filling of the knish. The outside of the knish was suitably chewy, making for a delightful symphony of textures.

The homemade potato chips added to that mélange. The spuds were cut thicker than most chips; most were crisp, a few were pleasingly chewy. All were delicious.

The case at Ben & Bill's includes Jewish deli staples, from Dr. Brown's sodas ($1.19) -- I got Cel-Ray -- to latkes, noodle kugel, chopped liver and frightening mummified fish. There are chocolate and cinnamon babkas and two sizes of black-and-white cookies, but part of the beauty of eating at the Price Chopper food court is variety.

I headed to the bakery for a decidedly goyishe snowman-shaped brownie sundae.

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