It takes mad skills to rescue gefilte fish. But Chef Meir Adoni, arguably the most renowned chef in Israel (making his NYC debut), takes the geléed fish that’s a painful tradition at Passover dinners, and turns it into something that will create return customers. He does so by placing his soft-but-not-slimy gefilte shrimp atop old world rye bread (all the breads here are superb), adding a beet-horseradish sauce and giving it a green boost with a salad of fresh almonds and cucumbers. Syrian pancakes called Qatayek are similarly surprising, their delightfully smoky, almost burnt, crust enfolding herbaceous ground lamb. Next to the pancakes is a “chaser”—two cups of a refreshing yogurt drink that taste like a non-sweet egg cream (it’s a swell combo). Not every dish makes as big an impact—on my last visit, the octopus was too salty and the desserts sub par—and most diners will wish that the designer hadn’t chosen tile floors for such a low-ceilinged room (the noise can ping pong painfully). Still, I think most will leave feeling that they had a true culinary adventure here—and that’s one of the greatest pleasures of NYC’s multi-cultural dining scene.
- Pauline Frommer