Barney Greengrass – My Place of Worship

My parents can relax and my grandparents can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. I have paid homage to my past and will continue on in the Jewish faith in a new and focused light.
 I have been to Barney Greengrass
This legendary smoked fish emporium has been popularized by Larry David, Larry Seinfeld, and countless other Larrys as having the most delicious smoked fish this side of the Odessa. Sure, there are other Jewish delicacies like matzo ball soup, chopped liver and latkes, but if you come here, you get smoked fish.
The shop has been around since 1908, and I think that’s how long most of the servers have been working there. It certainly hasn’t been redecorated since then. Think ancient posters publicizing the “Sturgeon King,” 25 tables crammed into 4 sq. feet of space and a tiny counter where your posterior will most surely be in other diners’ faces. The surroundings might not be plush, but they are perfect for eavesdropping and somehow make the whole experience seem more…authentic? What can I say…I like being elbowed in the ribs while eating my breakfast!
Whitefish Salad Platter with Cream Cheese, Sesame Bagels and Bialys
If you like tuna salad, this will blow your mind. If you don’t like tuna salad, this will blow your mind. If you like smoked fish, this will thrill you, if you don’t like smoked fish, this will thrill you. What I am saying is that there is NO WAY that you will not like this. The taste is so delicate, so barely salty and pleasantly smoky that it is faintly reminiscent of bacon. The texture is tender but not soft, with whole pieces of delicate, mild fish bound by only enough mayonnaise to make it the proper consistency – thick enough to eat on a fork, spreadable enough to smear, NO greasy, gloppy residue. Spread a toasted bialy with the rich brick of cream cheese, add some tomato for sweetness, some onion for bite and some of that incredibly mild, satisfying whitefish salad. Eat, and as you do, feel a wave of nostalgia from tuna fish sandwiches of your youth or a breakthrough “Aha!” moment as you wonder what you have been missing your whole life. 
A lot. You have been missing a lot. 
Scrambled Lox, Egg and Onion
I have often ordered this dish, but have never enjoyed it so much. Thick, velvety slices of Nova salmon (less salty than traditional smoked salmon) mingled with soft, sweet caramelized onions and hearty eggs. The eggs were, wisely, not too loose – that would have made the dish too rich and unctuous. The salmon was clearly the star here – gently brined, it was fatty and meltingly tender. It was such a subtle, refined version of the dish – it, too blew me away. 
What can I say about Barney Greengrass that hasn’t been said a million times by several generations? The lines are horrible, the servers are surly and the prices are high. But the food is unbelievable. It is made with so much heart, so much reverence, and is just so darned delicious. 
Grandma, you were right. THIS is officially my place of worship.
Barney Greengrass on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. Ada says:

    Barney Greengrass'whitefish is seriously one of the best things ever, SO amazing! Zabar's also makes a pretty good white fish.

  2. JustinM says:

    I planned to go a few years ago but it was packed so we went somewhere else. Maybe next time.

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Ada-I will have to try it out! It is CLEARLY a new obsession of mine!
    @Justin-I hope so! I hear it is not as bad on the weekdays

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