junior's - the rumors are true (sort of)
- bigjeff May 22, 2007 11:47 AM
so I heard that junior's sucks, but the fried chicken is good. I'm here to confirm a few things:
a. not everything at junior's sucks
b. the fried chicken is NOT good
Went to the bklyn original there for brunch with some out-of-towners (8 folks visiting from Atlanta, multi-generational, a few home-cooks among them, all black americans who wanted to have some soul food and hang out in brooklyn). between all of us, we had the baby back ribs, fried chicken, mixed fried seafood platter, the hamburger, omelette, french toast deluxe, chicken fingers, pancakes deluxe, corn bread, and a few more items, I can't remember. all of it was pretty standard diner fare, and very generous portions, and all more or less good, but not unique. their table coleslaw was great, their table beets were great, their table pickles were alright. we all ended up picking from each other's plates but I ordered the fried chicken, having gotten the rec from a few people, although I was leaning towards the chicken-fried steak personally.
made to order, my meal arrived after 20 minutes or so; 4 pieces of fried chicken, a bit light-colored for my taste, majorly underseasoned, and just decent. not much of a crust, a scrawny drumstick, a decent wing, and a couple thighs that were, well, kinda crunchy, just not that good. I was disappointed.
the cornbread was good, the ribs were sticky sweet and tender, the french toast was kinda crazy (an impossible crunch that tasted and felt like it passed through the deep fryer), the burger was boring, the seafood platter was standard, the other breakfast goods were standard as well.
but, the service was great (we had good banter with our server) and it was a fun experience. the restaurant was well-preserved and quite welcoming despite its size and overall, a pleasant meal. there's plenty of better places in the city, diner cuisine or not and I wouldn't go back again since the food was boring but I think, worth a visit, at least once. oh, and they had a signed picture of the notorious B.I.G. with diddy hanging on the wall, that was nice.
oh and of course! the cheesecake! well, we didn't have any, since it was too much food to digest, but, they did pick one up to go. I personally find their cheesecake too dense, and much prefer the lighter versions found elsewhere (lemony italian cheesecake from a greek bakery on Northern Boulevard in Bayside comes to mind, the name escapes me, its a block away from flamingo and is NOT oasis).
Junior's is not a place I would think to go for soul food, nor would I have very high expectaions for dishes of that sort served there. Particularly since, despite its significant African-Amercan patronage, its culinary lineage is basically Jewish delicatessen, and those foods still make up a lot of its diner-like menu.
There are much better places for soul food and fried chicken in Brooklyn, although most of them are holes-in-the-wall that are set up to do a lot of carry out business. One of these, Ruthie's, is only a couple of blocks down DeKalb from Junior's and does fine fried chicken, fried fish, smothered pork chops, along with several good sides.
The owners were Jewish from the time that Downtown Bklyn was a significant shopping area for a large Jewish population. My parents, for example (my mother is 85; my father would be over 90) were both born and raised in Bed-Stuy and always went to Juniors when shopping at the several Department stores that were on Fulton St. (A&S, Mays...). The neighborhoods became mostly African American many years ago and the owners just rolled with it, welcoming the change in clientele and becoming an "after Church" and events place. They were gutted by fire about 20 something years ago and most thought that they'd use that opportunity to cash out and just start franchising their cheesecake, but they rebuilt and are still very popular, albeit (as indicated) more as an upscale diner than any destination restaurant.
Oddly, the chicken salad sandwich is really good. Not what you would expect at a Jewish deli, but there you have it.
I can't remember, but its a block away from Flamingo Cafe which is at 192 and Northern Blvd. so I would guess it to be between 192 and 193, or 193 and 194. It's a narrow space with the goodies on the right side when you enter, and raised cafe area on the left. I like this place because its not as high-profile as the other greek cafes in the area. They also have an excellent galactaburekos (sp?) which is the semolina custard/pudding in phyllo pastry and quite excellent. They have lots of seasonal baking as well, and their italian cheesecake (and tiramisu cake, come to think of it) is great as well. It's across the street from the Eckerd drugstore that is on Northern right there, and a funeral parlor as well.
funny, I can remember everything about the area except the name of the place!