Friedman’s Lunch and the High Line

A friend of Firecracker’s is in town and we met her for lunch at the Chelsea Market. I hadn’t been there before, but it’s everything you’d expect in a high end market- fresh vegetables, multiple butchers offering everything from goat to prime beef and fresh seafood, bakeries and bistros, wholesale barware, salons. It’s also home to a luncheonette called Friedman’s, serving wine and beer and a nice brunch with a varied menu. Not too big, but a nice selection of omelets and pancakes plus Southern style food such as shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, biscuits, and so on.
Normally I’m on a biscuit like cotton on a lamb, but we’d just had Popeye’s chicken after a hike, so I decided to try their beef brisket burger, medium rare. It was quite good- lots of flavor, not too big, but lacking crust or sear. Other than that and the sweet brioche-type bun it was delicious, juicy, and cooked to order. The meat was loosely packed and felt hand-formed. The fries were dusted with flour or cornmeal to make them extra crispy, which they were. Tender inside mostly, on the larger pieces. I like some crunch, so I didn’t mind the crisper pieces. The pickle was forgettable, odd because they sell Gus’s in a barrel outside. I would’ve preferred a half-sour, this was a bland dill.
The burger will set you back $13, not bad for Chelsea and good brisket, but if there were a Shake Shack in the market I’d never go here for a burger. It’s probably the same LaFrieda brisket mix, just done differently. The shrimp and grits was very good, surprisingly with egg on top of the grits. A bit scant on the shrimp for the price, as expected in tony-town. The pancakes were fluffy and magnanimous in serving size. The fried tomatoes were alright, floured and not as crispy as let’s say, Dinosaur Barbecue’s, who makes the best in NYC I’ve had so far. So, Friedman’s is nice, but nothing spectacular. They don’t serve liquor, so no Bloody Marys, but they do have pomegranate bellinis and serve a great beer selection; I had Lagunitas “Censored” Copper Red Ale, which was originally called “The Kronik” until the Feds made them change it. Crisp, hoppy red with a good malt backbone. Worth a try.
Christin reminded us that the High Line park was nearby and we walked it back toward the PATH trains. It was enjoyable even in the misty rain. You get a lovely view of the city and a leisurely walk without worrying about traffic lights and oblivious yuppies pinballing off of you as they bumble down the street typing on their smartphones. There’s some interesting art displayed in spots, and the original railroad tracks- with the old arsenic-laced pressure-treated railroad ties replaced by new- run some of the length. The design is pretty cool, with the benches rising like bent rail tracks made of concrete. Go enjoy it sometime, whether you want some shrimp & grits or not.

Though you’ll have to put up with hearing aging hipsters sigh, “I don’t think I have the energy to reinvent myself,” and clever 7-year olds tell their parents that “reverse psychology doesn’t work these days.” If you like posting to Overheard in NYC, it’s a good area for people watching.

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.