Fifth Avenue Deli
Forest Hills, NY
Review by Susu, ThePlazaQueen, MaceVindaloo, Rosie, SteakGrrl, Runt, Diana, Wraith6, Csillag
Those of us who grew up in New York City can dimly remember when there didn't seem to be ANY fast food places here. There might have even been ordinances about them, or perhaps those corporations simply didn't have the models for the higher rents, less space, no parking situations ... but we'd see the Burger King commercials and envy the kids who lived in the 'burbs.
We didn't realize how lucky we were to have places like 5th Avenue Deli, which had stuff on the menu that those other places had, but the food was ... well, it was food! It still is, and their pancakes don't come out picture perfect, but they are perfectly delicious. They obviously use prepacked frozen french fries rather than cutting them themselves, but depending on the delivery that week, they might be crinkle cut, or smooth, or even English style chips, but they are always cooked to crispy, hot perfection. And we know their eggs are made from real eggs -- even the scrambled egg orders and the omelettes, becuase the grill is at the front of the restaurant, and we can hear them cracking the things, then the sizzle and clatter as the wet stuff hits the hot pan, and as the metal utensils flip things over. They're fast, too!
We've been coming here for what feels like as long as those dim days when we were young enough to envy people who could go to one of those fastfood places. It seems the waitress has been here forever, and her hair is dyed a stranger and stranger shade of brass every time. She's very nice, she never forgets out orders or messes them up. See, you can get table service at a place like this!
Their burgers are amazing -- big, beefy, no apologies for the grease or the fried onions. At about $10 for a "5th Avenue Burger," it's pricier than the other places, but you don't get a dime-thin patty of beef, and your fries are included. You also get lettuce, tomato, the fried onions, pickles, etc., which is good deli tradition is your "salad." Eat those to counteract and complement the effects of the big, delicious beef patty on a real roll. All their meats are really good -- their breakfast sausages are not the little wiennie things you get elsewhere. They're plump and fat, and their bacon is done on the griddle, any way you like them.
They also have decent taramasolata with grilled pita wedges; pair it with the cut vegetables for a nice group appetizer. But it's their breakfasts that will have you amazed. Those from out-of-town think of french toast as something made with white bread. Those from in-town consider only two possible breads for french toast: the Jewish challah bread -- a stretchy egg-based yeast bread, braided before baking, it comes out shiny and glossy and rich and makes the quintessential french toast; and raisin bread, including the stuff you buy at the store, already sliced. You let it age a day or two so it has enough "oomph" to resist falling apart in the very wet dunk of milk and eggs before hitting a really hot pan -- so hot that the egg bits congeal on contact and you get a brown, beautiful crust on the outsides, soft, wet innards. As Alan Alda's Hawkeye said of his father's french toast, "This is pastry, don't mess it up!" (It should not surprise you that the former Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo is a native!)
5th Ave Deli opts for raisin bread and serves it up with chopped apples and fruit dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Their pancakes are the type your mother would make at home if she had that hot griddle, with plenty of chocolate chips or blueberries tossed onto the wet side of a cooking pancake just prior to flipping. Omelets have filling options like feta or gruyere cheeses, augmented with real vegetables like spinach and tomatoes -- not prepacked stuff out of a jar. Their breakfast potatoes are good too -- not too greasy or red from overshaking the spices, but do ask for the fries instead. They really are very good!
We're now old enough to say, "Take back yer fastfood and ..." And we mean it!
Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!