I can think of no better place to bring a visitor to New York than Zabar’s café. Of course, the tourists head in droves to Zabar’s; but to get the real New York experience you need to sit in the adjacent café—really no more than a long table ringed by uncomfortably high bar chairs—and listen to the announcements being piped in from the Zabar’s smoked fish counter: “Fresh cut sable by our best sable cutter. Line up now by the blue balloon. You won’t find fish any fresher. Get your lox, your whitefish.” Then, abruptly, you’re switched to the line at the cheese counter as a voice bellows, “don’t forget to sample our Point Reyes Farmstead Blue.”
Happily, there are enough Zabar’s treats to divert you from the incessant only-in-New York voiceovers. I particularly like the Jewish standards, like the matzoh ball soup ($3.95) and the blintzes ($2.25/ea). The cheese blintz—a thin crepe-like pancake filled with sweet farmer’s cheese—is served with the perfect accompaniment, a tart applesauce. I’m reminded of my Grandma Bessie, who always served me blintzes in her Long Beach apartment while she chided me about not having a husband. The voices cajole from the Zabar’s speakers: “Come eat…Try…Taste.” Grandma? Is that you?
(at 80th Street)
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