Saturday, July 21, 2012

Searching for Home

Those who read this space long term know my ties to the Catskills. The vanishing world of Jewish Hotels and Bungalow colonies with a unique style of comedy is almost gone. There will still be a few bungalow colonies. Mostly the Ultra Orthodox Hasidic crowd has kept this alive for now.

Recently the Kutshers family of Catskills NY fame has opened a resturant in the area I work in. I am familiar with the local establishment of cookie cutter fake Italian and latino establishments. Over priced too hip and food that doesn't deliver.

I went to Kutshers with an elegant companion. Like myself she had been to many of these hotels in her youth. Her connection was not as intimate and as deep as my ties to that era. If you are going to relive those years and the traditions you are going to be disappointed.

The positives are the staff is charming and grasps the customer is king element from the Catskills. The staff has no connection to those years but Mr Kutsher has really done this well. He is a charming host who knows how to work a room much like the Hotel impesarios. He is not Irving Cohen or Jenny Grossinger but he is really good in this smaller venue.

Despite nostalgic delusions the true secret of the Catskills was the food was above average not world class. They served alot of food ( mountains) and they really did not bother with the aesthetic part of the game. You mostly ate familiars and went into a food coma shortly before the wonderful shows. The truth is that Kutshers Tribeca out does the original in that the food is better than more hyped local establishments.
Every single item was outstanding even if halibut gefilte fish sounds like the person eating it should get zonked with a lightning bolt.

The question is what brings you to the door. If you are looking for original food not found anyhere else with the best staff in the area you are in the correct place. This place is an excellent establishment that puts those in the area to shame. Its high quality offerings are authentic yet presented in modern ways. This is a fine establishment that is well worth repeated visits.

If you are looking for those Catskills memories forget it. I was explaining to the person with me how it would take three hours for me to set the tables. I would inspect each piece of silverware before I placed ti down and sometimes I respun the pieces in the machine that didn't meet my standards. I would go through racks of glasses to get a few for my customers and a few times I rewashed a set twice rather than give a less than perfect glass. Folding the napkins alone took about 35 minutes.  The pomp of a hotel dinning room is not here and perhaps is lost forever in time. Then again if anyone was crazy enough to recreate that level of dedication today would cost $300.00 a person minimum in a resturant setting.

I have had several careers and my home away from home where I hang my hat remains Bens Best. I have been eating there when it was Lou G Siegels. The food is always good the service is always very good and more close to the traditional favorites. I wandered in after I left the mountains when I worked in the fashion industry and never left. In many ways it is a greater part of my life than the famed mountains. When I met an impossible deadline I had a meal at Bens. When a boss wanted to discuss my contract we went to Bens. When I would wander back from VT starved for a slice of Derma in a culinary wasteland I ended up at Bens.

I guess my trip to Kutshers was a great experience. I will be returning shortly with appopriate companionship who can appreciate excellence. However, when I celebrate something important or need that little zest of life I will return to Ben's.


Z said...

Beak, a Catskills restaurant in Manhattan, huh? I find that fascinating!
If you're so familiar with the Catskills, do you know GRAFTON? My grandparents had a summer house there on top of a hill covered with blueberry nice.

Is Ellenville in the Catskills? My friends the Beans are in a play there with Paula Prentiss, except she's very ill and a stand in had to open for her (shhh)

I loved this piece..thanks!

beakerkin said...

I do not recall Grafton but Catskills Blueberries are much better than the store variety. I spent much of my toldler years picking and eating them. By Labor Day the black berries could be found and a odd type of chestnut.

Ellenville is up the road fromm my normal haunts in the Ferndale area.
I have been there many times and as recently as about three weeks ago. A coworker is having some difficulties and a trip to Ice Caves Mountain may keep him together
so I may be there soon.

Z said...

Funny that you did that, folks took me to NY, Grafton, when I was 2 and they say I ate myself around the hill....I ADORE BLUEBERRIES STILL!,_New_York

I didn't realize it was such a small town!
My dad went to RPI...was raised in TROY..."when it was a nice place," he'd add!