Editor's note: New York has thousands of restaurants, so why should a few big names get all the attention? In "Neighborhood Favorites," we'll check out some of the excellent eateries on corners near you. Have a Neighborhood Favorite? Shoot us an email or let us know in the comments.
One could be forgiven, after glancing over the menu at Miriam Restaurant and Wine Bar in Park Slope, for not expecting a memorable meal. Babaganoush and falafel, chicken shawarma and stuffed grape leaves—this Israeli restaurant covers all the usual Mediterranean bases.
But read a bit farther, and the menu gets more interesting. Meatballs in pomegranate sauce; scallops with parsnip chips and grapefruit salad; Mediterranean crispy dough. (What, exactly, is that? Read on.) And even the fresh hummus, babaganoush, and chopped salads are made with far more care and attention to deliciousness than plenty of restaurants of its ilk.
What to order, after the jump.
Miriam is at its calmest (and in my mind, most pleasant) on weeknights, when the crowds thin out and all bottles of wine are half-price. (A very drinkable Puglian Primitivo for $14? That's just a smidge above retail.) One of the best ways to sample the menu is with a simple meze spread: $2.50 each, or four for $9.00. While hummus and falafel are accounted for, there are more than a dozen others to choose from: beets perfectly roasted with a bright green tahini, juicy lamb meatballs in pomegranate sauce, mouth-searing spicy fish, tender calamari in a chickpea-heavy tomato sauce, and the smokiest babaganoush I've ever eaten.
And while brunchtime brings far more people to this long, narrow restaurant than any poor server should ever have to navigate, the food is consistently fantastic, fairly priced, and a good bit more adventurous than it has to be.
The Israeli Breakfast adds two eggs to a spread of decent but barely crispy home fries, a finely chopped salad, and silky, tangy labneh cheese. As with everything else, the success is in the details: perfectly cooked eggs, a drizzle of fruity olive oil, a sprinkle of za'atar.
The Mediterranean crispy dough has to be among the tastiest, and most indulgent, brunch dishes I've ever eaten: an enormous disk of sweet, flaky dough fried into oblivion and served with two eggs and two sauces (one tremendously spicy harissa sauce, and one more like a weak blended salsa). Imagine an enormous croissant disk, but about four times as buttery, and you'll have an idea of the incredible greasy delight of this crispy dough. (So much for the Mediterranean diet.) Our server described this dish as "addictive," and that's a dead-on assessment.
And Miriam's shakshuka is one of the best versions of the dish I've had in the city, with bright tomato flavor, just a hint of spice, and enough texture so that the eggs don't get lost—the yolk commingles with the sauce without dissolving, a beautiful marbleization that's perfect for swiping with their fantastic fluffy pita.
Fair prices, cheap wine, dishes far tastier than one would expect—Miriam may not be a destination restaurant, but delicious and reliable, it's a first-class neighborhood favorite.