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Mishiguene at Intersect by Lexus

BA Jewish Restaurant Tomás Kalika

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:21 PM

I'm not even going to try to figure out whether this residency merits a general recommendation. I will say that this is sheer heaven, if your idea of heaven is a place where Jewish food is cooked by agents of Argentines who, unlike the preparers of most Jewish food (especially Ashkenazic), actually know how to cook.

Meshigene is a well-known newish (not a typo) restaurant in Buenos Aires.* (Apparently "meshuggeneh" is spelled differently in Argentine Spanish transliteration.) It features "Jewish food". Let's reflect for a minute on what they mean by that.

They claim to feature all kinds of Jewish food, by which they mean Ashkenazic (what we mainly think of as Jewish food here), Middle Eastern, and Sephardic. (They don't really try to incorporate Italian Jewish cuisine -- which in a way is surprising given BA's large Italian population and cultural/culinary influence.) At first blush, you'd expect the emphasis to be on Sephardic, what with Argentina's having started as a Spanish colony. But when you think about it, you see why the emphasis is solidly on Ashkenazic, the food of Central and East European Jews. Jews had already been kicked out of Spain by the time Argentina was colonized. They didn't come to Argentina from there at the time of colonization. They came later, from Germany and Russia and all the other places New World Jews came from in the 19th Century (including the families of childhood BA piano competitors Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich).

So anyway, there's a decent amount of Middle Eastern food here, and some Sephardic -- but an absolute shit-ton of Ashkenazic (which, as an Ashkenazic Jew, is fine with me). But here's the thing: while the term "shit-ton" is usually all too applicable to that kind of food, the stuff here is fantastic. It's like a "What If": what if Ashkenazic food were good? You aren't even sick after eating it!

For my first of what I am sure will be many visits, I went full Ashkenaz. I started with the gefilte fish, made mainly from cod (which I'd usually say made it "not gefilte fish" — but obviously I’m giving this wonderful place the benefit of all possible doubts); a segmented log rather than a blob, it was beautifully put together, beautifully flavored, beautifully garnished with pickled vegetables and horseradishy or mustardy condiments (and trout roe!), and I loved it (I didn't even miss the aspic).

For my main dish, I had the pastrami-spiced short ribs, which were (I think) brined, then sous-vided, then grilled (a method of preparation that had us all excited when Ko opened but which we would now all sneer at). This was as good in practice as Montreal steak is in theory (by which I mean, GOOOOOOOOD). Maybe because the pastrami flavoring was pretty light. I didn't much love the very fried spaetzle (I mean, FRIED spaetzle? REALLY?????) that came with it, though. THAT seemed more like the heavy-handed cooking of my grandmothers.

The date-bar dessert was nice.

For something like 10 years, I've been engaging in the absurd pursuit of trying to make a cocktail that reflected the flavors of a Jewish deli. My every essay has been (not to put too fine a point to it) disgusting. They have one here now that isn't disgusting. (I don't know that I'll order it again, though.)

The by-the-glass wine list is very well thought out as a complement to the food.

As I said, I can't tell begin to guess whether you'll like this stuff. But me, I'm considering moving in there. There's so much more I'm dying to try on the menu. Maybe eventually I'll even move beyond the Ashkenazic stuff.
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* Mishigene's chef, Tomás Kalika, seems to have already returned to BA (unless he was just taking Monday off). But one of the beauty parts of Intersect by Lexus is that Nickolas Martinez's NYC home staff is so good at executing the supervising chef's recipes.


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#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:40 PM

Maybe taion will tell us about his Chinese-American friend who somehow thought Meshigene was the new Nikkei restaurant in New York.


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#3 joethefoodie

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:52 PM

Now I'm excited for our reservation tomorrow.

 

Jewish deli cocktail? I think I'd be inclined toward a high-ball, like Celray and Gin.

 

Probably too easy. though I can see gin going with pastrami.



#4 rozrapp

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:57 PM

I’ve been excited to go there. How’s the noise level?

#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:10 PM

Not high.  They do play raucous Jewish music -- klezmer, choro (bet you didn't know that probably the most legendary choro composer was Jewish!) (bet you don't care now that you do know!), etc. -- but at a pretty low level.

 

Friday nights they have live music, and they told me it gets very very lively.  So maybe avoid that.


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#6 Orik

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:45 PM

Yeah, the music is sort of Hava Nausea.

 

I thought the foie dish was good, and the little tongue sandwich excellent. Herring salad wan't very interesting, and the jerusalem mix while sitting on very good hummus was not very good. 

 

The kadaifi dessert was also very good. 

 

Pita could be much better but the challah with the "onion" spread and pickle was terrific.

 

Also, speaking of well priced wine list for nyc - theirs, especially considering service is included.

 

I found the cuisine mashup amusing as my Sepharadi / Venezuelan grandma would often cook dinners where everything was clearly of those two origins except gefilte fish for my grumpy Romanian grandpa, and kept doing that even after they'd divorced.


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:54 PM

That "onion" spread was schmaltz with toasted onions on top (as I'm sure you know).

 

The pickles were great.  (They gave me, and I assume everyone, some to go home with.)


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#8 Orik

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:10 PM

Yes, there was certainly some onion in there.


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#9 Tubbs

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 12:32 AM

Wow this sounds excellent. Sounds like they are usually there a few months?

#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 12:43 AM

Yeah.  Oddly, their website doesn't say how long this one's there for.


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#11 rozrapp

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 03:17 AM

True, there is no precise length of stay mentioned, but the website says “the restaurant will launch a new concept every 4-6 months...,” which leads me to presume that Meshigene will be there at least to the end of the year and possibly longer.

Thanks for the noise info! Happily, it’s a go for me!

#12 GerryOlds

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 08:11 PM

We've seen this kind of modern Jewish cooking before, though it sounds like never this well executed (and never, to my knowledge, with Argentine influences).

 

I've had Manischewitz cocktails before, and High Street on Hudson used to serve a celery soda highball that tasted very Cel-Ray-esque. Sneak, will you regale us with some of your Jewish deli drink attempts?



#13 Neocon maudit

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 08:17 PM

There's a certain platonic idea of New York which leads one to expect all manner of unexpected delights in the city. There ought to be more like this...and this concept isn't even from New York!



#14 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 08:51 PM

Rye.  Aquavit.  Mustard powder.  Schwartz's Montreal steak spice mix.  Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray.

 

Mix.   Drink.  Vomit.


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#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:50 AM

Actually, while my cocktail isn’t good, it is true to the spirit (and usual physical consequences) of Ashkenazic cooking.
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