April 27, 2007 | BITE: My Journal

Brooklyn Diner Nightcap 

    Still feeling the emotional disorientation of Athol Fugard’s powerful Exits and Entrances,we exit the theater, hungry, too. My idea of the perfect nightcap is Brooklyn Diner’s superlative burger, a “plump and exultant napkin ripper,” as I wrote in Best of New York a few months ago.  Every since writing it, I’d been craving it: juicy, just patted lightly into form, layered with cheddar and crisp bacon, under a toque of fried onion rings. Tonight the fries are especially good.  My guy and I share a burger and a better-than-most Caesar, with its crusty parmesan crouton almost as big as the salad plate.  Not classic, I agree, but I’m not classic myself. 

    With three burgers, the salad, and a hunky wedge of strawberry-topped cheesecake for the four of us, our immensely satisfying supper cost $35 a couple. This ghost of the old Lindy’s signature dessert comes with a pitcher of warm chocolate sauce…supposedly to drown the cake in chocolate.  The thought of it makes me shudder. It’s a sacrilege and an insult to great cheesecake. I say pour the chocolate into a soup spoon and eat it. A little chocolate is nice before bedtime.

212 West 57th between Broadway and Seventh Avenue 212 977 2280


    About Brooklyn Diner and the near-Jewish Mother behind its sweet eccentricity, Shelly Fireman:  I have often said…and written in my memoir, Insatiable, that a critic should be a hermit and have no friends. Like so many wise rules, impossible to live up to. I met Shelly and his wife, Marilyn, at the Michelangelo Bar in the main square of Pietrasanta, near the Tuscan seashore years ago. Alas, they were fun and funny and live in our neighborhood. 

    Recently, the two of them announced they’d become vegans.  Not so funny, but to each his own. I was really embarrassed when Shelly brought his own low carbohydrate pasta and asked the chef to cook it, at a restaurant where I was known. After picking myself up from under the table (well, not literally), I tasted.  It’s 100% Kamut whole wheat spaghetti and he’s serving it now in his own restaurants: Fiorello, Shelly’s Traditzionale, Trattoria del’Arte, and both Brooklyn Diners.  Coming soon: Recipes using Kamut and buckwheat rigatoni and Kamut and quinoa gamelli.  As I said, to each his own.



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