1 at Franklin St.
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This venue is closed.
"What in the world has gotten into Jeffrey Chodorow?" muttered one of the food snobs at my table as he took a perfectly brined pickle from the exceptional “delicatessen” board at the rashly conceived, surprisingly accomplished “modern Jewish-American” restaurant Kutsher’s Tribeca and crunched it happily between his teeth. Chodorow, of course, is the restaurateur New York food snobs love to hate. But in the past few years, he’s put his money behind a string of popular, even critical hits, including Bar Basque, Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ’Cue and Fatty Crab, and the fashionable Chinese farm-to-table establishment RedFarm. Now comes Kutsher’s, which has been designed by Chodorow’s young partner Zach Kutsher as a kind of upscale homage to his family’s famous Kutsher’s Country Club resort in the Catskills.
If there’s a problem with the radical interpretations of ancient dishes on the menu here, it’s that some of them are actually too good. At least that was the twisted, Talmudic argument presented by one of the food scholars at my table, who pronounced his matzo-ball soup to be “overstudied.” The smooth chopped chicken liver is folded with unorthodox spoonfuls of gourmet duck liver and you can get your (slightly sodden) potato latkes topped with three kinds of caviar or a compote made with local Greenmarket apples. The house gefilte fish is molded into decorative gourmet pedestals and feathered with micro-greens and a parsley vinaigrette. But the contents of the excellent house delicatessen plate were quickly devoured, as was a platter of crisped artichokes alla Judea (frizzled in the Roman style with garlic, Parmesan, and lemons). The entrée list is filled with similar game attempts to enliven old canonical favorites. My order of Friday-Night Roast Chicken was overbrined and the falafel-crusted salmon tasted like a piece of cafeteria-quality fish with a shmear of dry falafel on top, but the golden cod is cut in two nicely roasted fillets and served with Meyer-lemon confit on the side. The bountiful lunchtime deli-style sandwiches (try the Reuben or the KT pastrami) may not have quite the pedigree of the venerable classics at Katz’s or Carnegie, but you can complement them with towers of fries tossed with duck schmaltz, or order a first-rate La Frieda special-blend burger, served on wedges of toasty sesame-seed challah.
The room, on Franklin Street, is appointed in a stylish, nouveau-Fontainebleau way with gold-colored light fixtures, whitewashed backlit walls, and a bar top made of copper. There’s no Manischewitz on the wine list at this decidedly un-kosher restaurant. Instead, you can obtain a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne to sip with your caviar-topped latkes, along with a selection of $12-$13 cocktails with belabored Catskill-era names like Bug Juice and Bungalow Bunny. The desserts include a bread pudding awkwardly constructed from chocolate babka and a decorative rainbow sundae with spongy rainbow cookies at the bottom. But after a heavy dinner, the best option is the cookie plate, the ceremonial contents of which (hamantaschen, weighty macaroons, house-baked rugelach) are designed to be nibbled with a digestive cup of tea.
Our brunch experts commend the KT hash and eggs (poached eggs over pastrami hash) and “the Leo,” Kutsher’s take on scrambled eggs with lox and onions.Ideal Meal
The delicatessen plate, pickled herring two ways, grilled Romanian steak, cookie plate, KT pastrami sandwich.