‘Shrimp N’ Grits’ Comes To Crown Heights
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Kosher Southern Comfort

‘Shrimp N’ Grits’ Comes To Crown Heights

Hannah Dreyfus

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

Sruli Eidelman, cooking up some Southern comfort at his new Izzy’s Fried Chicken joint. Hannah Dreyfus/JW
Sruli Eidelman, cooking up some Southern comfort at his new Izzy’s Fried Chicken joint. Hannah Dreyfus/JW

The menu is all about recreating authentic Southern hospitality — with a kosher twist.

In his latest venture to expand the conventional kosher palette, Sruli Eidelman, the kosher restaurant entrepreneur behind Izzy’s Brooklyn Smokehouse, is set to open his latest Crown Heights eatery this week: Izzy’s Fried Chicken. The menu boasts Fish ‘n’ Grits (a kosher take on the Southern classic Shrimp ‘n’ grits), fried green tomatoes, and biscuits with sausage gravy, in addition to deep-fried chicken.

“We’re one of the first kosher spots to offer authentic, Southern comfort food,” said Eidelman, 32. Since opening Izzy’s Brooklyn Smokehouse in 2015, the eatery snagged citywide recognition for its fare, crowned Brisket King of NYC in 2017 and Rib King of NYC in June by the specialty food event producer Food Karma. (“Everyone was entering pork ribs — we did a beef-back rib and won first place,” said Eidelman.)

Hannah Dreyfus/JW

Izzy’s Fried Chicken, located on Kingston Avenue and Lincoln Place, is the latest installment in what is quickly becoming New York’s kosher fine-dining headquarters. Recent additions include MEAT, a new kosher steakhouse, and Alenbi, a high-end Israeli food spot. Historically the epicenter of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic movement, today Crown Heights draws patrons from across the New York area seeking an artisanal kosher food experience. In the rapidly shifting Brooklyn neighborhood — as rents skyrocket, bike shops replace bodegas and hipsters hang out in multiplying coffee spots — the new kosher food scene is a unique confluence of chasidic and hipster culture.

Eidelman is no stranger to pushing kosher food boundaries. In February, he opened Izzy’s Taqueria, a kosher Mexican food joint. Now, Izzy’s Fried Chicken is heading north of Eastern Parkway — into the Caribbean-American section of Crown Heights — but south of the Mason-Dixon line in terms of cuisine.

“The goal is to make great food that happens to be kosher, not kosher food that happens to be great,” said Eidelman, who hopes his newest eatery will attract a diverse Crown Heights crowd. “We don’t — and never have — compromised on food quality or authenticity to accommodate the kosher consumer.”

Hannah Dreyfus/JW

The quality and experience of kosher fine dining has shifted dramatically in the past few years, according to Roger Horowitz, a historian of American business with an expertise in kosher products.

“Thirty years ago, you may not have had the variety of kosher flavorings that we have now,” he told The Jewish Week in 2017. A place like Izzy’s, which offers a range of cuisine previously not available to kosher consumers, is able to thrive in a climate that “combines entrepreneurial spirit with quality ingredients previously off limits.” Crown Heights food entrepreneurs, Horowitz continued, are “putting two and two together: Jewish interest in innovative cuisine and then the opportunities presented by having kosher materials more widely available.”

 

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