Delicatessen: Only in Soho Does Comfort Food Come With Truffle Oil
Delicatessen is a strange place with strange people. In uber-chic Soho, it’s cookie-cutter trendy on steroids with a sleek contemporary look, models & bottles, requisite people-watching perches, and a slinky downstairs lounge. The background house/techno music is continually pumping shrill beats throughout the surprisingly large space and onto the street corner; fit women in of-the-minute outfits strut throughout the space like its a catwalk, casting contemptuous glances at the under-dressed, or lean nonchalantly against the doorframe, smoking cigarettes dangerously close to ‘inside’; even the waiters and waitresses, more part of the scene than meant to serve it and often bespectacled in hipster rims, ooze the too-cool-for-school look, daring to actually wait on tables only when absolutely necessary.
If you can believe it, *wink wink*, the food at Delicatessen is right on trend as well. The kitchen delivers ‘haute’ comfort food, the diabolical culinary dichotomy that’s sweeping through New York’s dining scene (just consider the rabid popularity of The Breslin, The Spotted Pig, Pies-n-Thighs, Bill’s Burgers, Crif Dogs, Minetta Tavern, Waverly Inn, and so on and so forth). Expect decadent nods to the grub you ate in elementary school like Giorgio’s Meatballs, topped with pecorino and garlic crostini, Baked Mac n’ Cheese, beer-battered Fish & Chips, Fried Chicken in a Bucket, and Grandma’s Meatloaf. It’s school lunch with expensive ingredients and fancy finishes like truffle oil. Everything is heavy and enormous – strangely inappropriately-portioned for the waif-thin in-crowd that frequents Delicatessen. It makes you wonder how much food they actually sell.
Delicatessen, whether because it tries too damn hard or because it’s just not good enough, doesn’t carry the cache or the following of the haute comfort food hot spots listed above; it’s easy enough to just book a table through Opentable.com. Maybe it’s for this reason that Delicatessen comes off desperate in its attempt to ride the trend; it hasn’t carved out a definable niche for itself in an over-populated and already tired space. That being said, if you’re actually heading there for the food (and by my calculations, you’re in the minority), it’s not bad, with even a few highlights (Truffle Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Hamburger). My recommendation? Settle on the patio, watch the very pretty world go by, sip a very over-priced glass of wine, and nosh on food basics that you know, wickedly, are sure to expand your waistline; throw caution to the wind!