New York, NY, Tasted on November 13, 2004 — Where Katz's
Delicatessen has cornered the market on Jewish cured meat Barney
Greengrass represents the fish end of the spectrum. Saturday lunch
belongs at Katz's but Barney Greengrass p0wns Sunday brunch.
I try hard not to let anything other than the food
affect my judgment of a restaurant experience. However, the incredible
atmosphere at Barney Greengrass makes it very very difficult. If you
want a place that puts you immediately at ease with it's informality,
crowdedness, cluttered details on the walls (in a good way),
warmth, and great food, then Barney Greengrass is home. That said,
even if the atmosphere gets you to go once, the food is the reason to
If you're going to have brunch composed of lots of
smoked fish, then the bagel is the foundational element in your meal.
bagels here are solid but light. They are great toasted however. The
behind the counter told me they got them from City Bagel.
Light Philly Cream Cheese arrived at our table in the same container
you get at the supermarket.
Combining various cured items with eggs is always a good
idea so we got two variations. The
Salami and Eggs had deep caramelized salami flavor permeating the
entire dish. The
Nova and Onion Scramble was salty and quite good as well. We also
got some super crunchy pickles as well as a
tall glass of Borscht.
At first I wondered about the
Latkes with their hockey puck like shape. But the potato flavor was
so savory I found it beguilingly good. There was a peppery quality to
the latkes. I wondered if they were fried in
schmaltz. They were
served with the ever-complementary apple sauce of course.
And of course the fish is the star of the show at Barney
Greengrass. We got a healthy portion of
various selections. The whitefish was buttery and smooth. The lox
was creamy. And the sturgeon was deeply oily in a good way. There was
also "pastrami" cured salmon which was peppery. I thought it could have
been even stronger in terms of the peppery quality.
Hot Cocoa punctuated the end of meal with a little sugar after all
that salt intake.
I can't decide whether it's good or bad that I don't
live in Manhattan. I suppose it's a bad thing that I don't when it comes
to my access to good food. However, if there is a small silver lining,
it's that I don't have to schlep to Barney Greengrass every Sunday
morning for brunch, because if I lived there, that's what I would need
to do. They do however
ship their fish anywhere, so maybe I'll have to try that.