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BARNEY GREENGRASS: EXPENSIVE, NOT IMPRESSIVE

I took a family member to Barney Greengrass for breakfast this past Saturday morning and was a little disappointed. Some of the posts on this board and my internal optimism led me to believe that this was going to be the mother of all delis. Anthony Bourdain in his book (companion to the TV show) No Reservations, speaks lovingly about Barney Greengrass in NY. Beverly Hills seems not to have been blessed with the same quality establishment.

Barney Greengrass is located on the 5th floor of the Barneys department store in Beverly Hills. The dining room is upscale and very "undelilike." We opted to sit on the patio with a lovely view of the hills. For a restaurant 3/4's empty at 10:30am, I was a little surprised at how casual (read: slow) the service was. Simple tasks like coffee and water refills, more cream, checking back to see if we needed anything else, were slow, slow, slow. Also, watching one of the busboys recycle breadbaskets was a little disturbing. He would give the already used bread basket the once over, throw a few items away, add a few more etc...GROSS!

Now for the food:

We ordered a platter of sturgeon, nova lox and white fish salad. The platter was pretty enough and was garnished with two bagels (we opted for their famous, flown in form the east coast bialys), 4 slices of tomato, red onion, capers, cream cheese, lemons, a pile of fancy salad mix and coleslaw. ($45.50)

It's hard to say what the actual amounts of the fish were but I would describe them this way:

sturgeon - supposedly the cadillac of fish, very rare, found in Russian waters. Ours had a pleasant smoky flavor but was dry, dry, dry. At $60/lb I expected better. Enough to cover two bagel halfs.

whitefish salad - two good size scoops and no problems here. Very good quality whitefish with just the right amount of mayo and celery. Not too fishy. Very tasty.

nova lox - (not the salty kind) quantity was more here than the sturgeon, less than the white fish salad. Really some of the best I have had. Moist and meaty. The big question is though: Better then what you can get at Brent's Deli? No!

Here is where I get a little held up (like at gunpoint):

If you are going to serve me 3 kinds of fish give me more than two bagels. That third bialy I ordered cost me ($4.75). Brent's deli gives you three bagels with their fish platter. And by the way, I have never had a bialy w/o onions. These supposed east coast bagels fell very short of the real thing.

In the same vain, those extra 4 slices of tomato ($4.75) made me feel a little resentful. In my mind, it's like a lot of other things like TAXES for example. I would rather you charge me more up front than nickel and dime me.

Coffee ($3.75 each, $7.50 for 2 cups) was good. Their babka (Jewish coffee cake) was not; dry, dry, dry. Good for feeding the pigeons. By the way, if you want AWESOME babka, go to Jar for brunch. Their babka is killer while BG's babka tasted stale.

All told, food, tax, tip equaled a whopping $90.59 for two. I'm curious about the chopped liver and the deli sandwiches but honestly, I probably won't be back. There were aspects of my meal that were good but not enough for a return visit. Maybe a little select takeout with a side trip to a real bagel shop might be in order. I'm just curious what your experiences have been like HOUNDS?

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  1. Thanks for your review. I still have not been precisely because I think it's overpriced. But I did think the quality of the fish would be great, but sounds like NOT. I really liked the lox at Factors, if you've been, how would you compare? I think the $4.75 for 4 slices of what I'm sure are supermarket tomatoes, tipped the scale way into the negative. Hope you at least got free refills on the coffee. If I ever get around to stopping by Barney Greengrass, I'll get something small.
    And thanks for the tip about the babka at Jar!

    1. I'm disappointed to hear. I've set this place aside in my mind for a celebration blow out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JAB

        i have brunch on my birthday here... i think its a great place for a celebration blow out! maybe he had an off day? i've never had anything except amazing breakfasts and brunches here. id still recommend it for a celebration blow out!

      2. ew. the bagels (h&h) may be flown in from ny but they are flown in frozen and then defrosted. they turn inedible during that process. there is potential if they are toasted, but i personally don't like bagels that way with my whitefish, sable and salmon. as far as their smoked fish, there whitefish is top notch and is the sable (which is my favorite). Sturgeon isnt my thing so i can not comment. i recommend getting the fish to take home and enjoying it on your own terms. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: NYCnowLA

          sable is also my favorite. i was just in NYC this weekend and had sable from Russ & Daughters. I was hoping that Barneys would be someplace i could go for a sable bagel sandwich. At least Nate and Al's is not far. if anyone knows of any other deli's for sable, let me know please.

        2. I basically agree. I went and had bagels, smoked fish, and cream cheese--can't remember exactly what I ordered. It was fine but way too expensive. At a good NYC deli, you can get better quality everything for half the price. On the other hand, I did really like the patio seating. Overall I'd give it a thumbs up.

          I think a better value nearby is Nate and Al's.

          1. For the price I was expecting perfect. It fell short.

            1. They're the only place in town for belly lox, so my advice is to take out the belly lox and make your own sandwich with better local bagels. Also, their prices on take out fish are not terribly out of step with Russ & Daughters in NYC (last time I was there, belly lox was cheaper than nova-- a bargain for a fattier, more decadent cut of fish)

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/655763

              Mr Taster

              1. Curious to know what posts led you to believe this was going to be "the mother of all delis"??? All the reviews that I've ever seen on this place have been pretty lukewarm, esp. with respect to value. Brent's seems to get top billing most of the time on this board, at least that I've read. Thanks for the breadsticks tip though, I always suspected as much - ugh.

                1. For the price you paid you could have had Russ & Daughters flown in express -- and they use Ess-A-Bagel for their bagels and bialys.