I don't remember exactly when I ate at Odessa (the restaurant) for the first time—it was in 2005 or 6, in a boozy haze, probably around the same time that a college friend was bartending at Odessa (the bar) next door, specializing in a variation of a Long Island Iced Tea with an unprintable name (okay, we'll print it—scroll down). I do remember that Odessa (the restaurant) made an excellent French toast, using fluffy challah bread so thoroughly soaked in eggy goo that it became almost like a caramelized bread pudding when it hit the flattop.
Odessa's bar closed this summer but their diner is alive and kicking. Their eastern European food is by and large weak—bland pierogi, limp potato pancakes, unremarkable kielbasa—but their Blintzes ($7) are clear winners.
I can't decide if the cooks at Odessa, one of our favorite dive-diners in the East Village, are sadists or just really in love with life. Because a Reuben like this one needs some kind of explanation for its size and splendor and general "screw your cardiologist" work ethic.
There's something uniquely comforting about a big, hefty sandwich, and New York might have the world's greatest supply. But only a few can be described as super-mega-massively-Dagwood-Bumstead-esque comically large, and fewer still that actually taste good beneath their heft. When such a sandwich comes along, we believe it deserves some recognition.
Try as we might, we don't get to writing about everything we've eaten in this great city. Or maybe we have written about a dish, but it's so good we can't stop thinking about it. Here's our latest installment of What We're Eating, a look at what the Serious Eats editors have devoured and loved recently.
The East Village's borscht belt takes all comers, old foreigners next to fresh new faces, forming one of the city's most democratic public spaces. And come icy winters, their bowls of chicken soup and plates of potato dumplings satisfy like nothing else. Here's a roster of the old timers that are still standing, with field notes on what to order.