|Photo Credit: Christina Clusiau|
There is no way around it, Kipsey’s is what owner, Arnon Magal, describes it as: “a neighborhood restaurant done right.”
Kipsey’s encapsulates an old school meaning of the diner, not the current connotation of mile long menus, greasy spoons, and rapid-fire service. It’s a neighborhood spot, dishing out homemade “simple, generous American comfort food.” The depth is in the sincere flavors, succinct variety and quality ingredients. Everything is made from scratch, in house, everyday— from the mayo on the burgers, to the hot sauce and the bacon. There is no mistaking the meticulous care and passion, as Magal says, the food is “simple but we take ourselves seriously.”
The corner restaurant located in Kip’s Bay, which Magal believes to be “the last real neighborhood in the City,” is not exactly trendy. It offers “straightforward, honest food,” with recipes that are “transparent” and “nothing highly sophisticated,” according to Magal. “We are not fighting to be unique, “ he continues. “But striving and succeeding at being accessible.” The prices are affordable, making Kipsey’s a place you can frequent.
Kipsey’s presents an eclectic gathering of starters, with flavors that characterize New York City— smooth and subtle humus, smoky grilled wings. Though, the chipotle corn bread was lacking some heat, the parsley butter met the sweetness of the bread. The cured salmon, house-cured for a quick 24 hours, was absolutely amazing, with a sweet wave of salt and dill heightened by cool crème fraiche. But, the thick bacon was a must.
Even the entrees speak to the American South and beyond. Favorites like meatloaf and rotisserie chicken are side by side with grilled salmon and the Kipsey’s burger. The meats like the slow smoked brisket and the braised short rib are definitely highlights on the menu. Both meats were cooked expertly, tender to the point where they melted in the mouth. Texture of the meats really took the forefront, whereas the flavors were subtle. The same was true of the schnitzel, which was livelier with a squeeze of the lemon. But each was reminiscent of home.
There is nothing complicated about the sides either, just simple comfort food. With sides like cauliflower, mac and cheese, coleslaw and more, there is something for everyone. The creamy mashed potatoes had a welcomed ratio of cream and butter, while the spinach was studded with tons of garlic. The smoked baked beans and the hamhock greens, however, were missing a little life. The hand cut fries, Magal reveals, go through an involved process to reach his satisfaction, “crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.”
Desserts too were a mish mash of origins and styles. The apple crumble had a deconstructed approach, too disjointed to be a classic. Timeless pecan pie was transformed a little to a tiny individual pie, which was lost in almost savory fresh whipped cream. These modifications felt dishonest to the Kipsey’s approach.
There is nothing innovative about technique, flavor profile or even style but that is not what the restaurant is about. Kipsey’s prides itself on “generosity, comfort and neighborhood” and being “super casual and super friendly.” The staff make guests feel welcomed and special every single visit. Magal and his wife both make the rounds, calling each regular by name. The family friendly warm atmosphere creates a sense of community, even though Magal says, “people come to Kipsey’s to eat!”
438 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10010