Thursday, May 29, 2008

Barney Greengrass

With a daytrip to decidedly un-Semitic Greenwich, Conn. imminent, the ever sagacious gravida thought that pre-eating at Barney Greengrass might fortify the soul against any preppers. She also had a craving for a bagel and smoked salmon. While I normally eschew Ashkenazi food for its stagnancy and lack of freshness, there may be no type of food I love more than effluvial fish. Moreover, I had never paid a visit to the Sturgeon King, which is so venerable that it is the setting for a scene in Roth’s Operation Shylock.

Greengrass’s smoked sturgeon is certainly very good. I did not expect its mild flavor and creamy texture and am glad I tried it. But the true revelation was the soft, smooth mound of chopped herring, which I spread onto a crusty bialy. Greengrass’s traditional recipe calls for mixing the cured herring with vinegar, white wine and apple sauce. The latter ingredients provided a flavorful and balanced zestiness. But more than that, the chopped herring simply had an abundance of herring flavor and brought to mind one of my favorite dishes anywhere, the Chez Georges bowl of marinated herring filets submerged in oil and herbs. Considering my usual antipathy to the Chicagoland of the Upper West Side, if it weren’t for the ersatz New England town, I might never have gone.

Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Ave.
New York
(212) 724-4707

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