Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Manny's Uptown Kitchen

Manny's Uptown Kitchen

This week's review took us to one of our new favorites- Manny's Uptown Kitchen. As many of our readers already know, they were previously open under the name Manny Hattan's and served New York style deli fare. So why the name change? Well, the owners felt it was time to expand their horizons a bit and experiment with new flavors. What they serve now might be classified as a type of deli fusion cuisine. Owner Aaron Mayer told us that there is now a much greater emphasis on fresh ingredients and made to order products, and the end results are a real testament to the fine job they're doing.

Potato Knish
Let's start things out with our appetizers. First up we have the potato knish. The knish is a staple of Jewish delis all over New York. It's a mound of fluffy mashed potatoes that have been covered in a bit of dough and baked to perfection. Years ago, I took a trip to New York and got a knish from one of the best places possible- a street vendor. It may sound silly to say about a simple potato dish, but it was a culinary revelation for me. It's been seventeen years but I still remember the flavor and texture of my first knish. So how does Manny's stack up to this memory? It is perfect. The flavor and texture are just like I remember from all those years ago. And it was especially good with the brown mustard at the table.

Next up was the butternut squash pierogi. For those of you not familiar with a pierogi, think of it as an Eastern European ravioli or dumpling. The dumpling itself is cooked absolutely spot on. It has a nice firm texture without being tough or rubbery. The filling is nice and subtle, but still present. The sauce on the pierogis is a sage brown butter and balsamic vinegar reduction. When Aaron brought them out to us the sauce was the first thing I noticed for a couple of reasons. First, it is very eye catching. Dark reddish brown from the vinegar and butter and green from the sage contrasted against the lighter tan of the pierogis. Second, and most important was the scent. The sauce has a nice tangy vinegar bite, but mellowed out by the reduction process. The flavor was sweet, tangy and savory all at the same time. For me, this appetizer really hit it out of the park.

Tongue Sandwich
For our main course David decided to order the Beef Tongue Sandwich. Tongue is a type of meat that some people have a hard time with. I'll admit I was once one of them. There are two problems with tongue: First it is difficult to prepare well. If it is over cooked it becomes tough to the point of being inedible. Second, and most common- it's a tongue. The thought of chewing on a tongue is a bit unsettling for many people. But let me assuage your fears, this is one of the best sandwiches you will ever have. Just think of it as it really and truly is at this point- a perfectly tender cut of meat. Most often,  tongue is prepared by braising because the low temperature of the braising process allows the meat to cook without becoming tough. In this case the meat is first pickled, similar to what you would do in preparing a corned beef, then boiled and served as a cold cut sandwich. The results that Manny's achieves by using this method are absolutely fantastic. The meat itself has a rich flavor due to the heavy marbling and, due to the pickling, a character very similar to corned beef. In fact if you didn't know it was tongue you would probably guess it was corned beef. The meat is sliced thin, and practically melts in your mouth. A sandwich any real deli would be proud to serve.

Challa French Toast
For my entree, I decided to go with Breakfast. That's right, Manny's now serves breakfast and they serve it all day. I don't know about you all, but as a child I always looked forward to having breakfast for dinner. There's just nothing like having pancakes or French toast for a meal other than breakfast. It's almost like you're doing something wrong, but mom is encouraging you to do it. For my breakfast plate I ordered the Challa Bread French Toast. Challa (pronounced "halla" with a rough 'H') is a type of braided Jewish bread that happens to lend itself perfectly to French toast. It is porous enough to soak up the egg batter and soft enough so that the cooking process does not make the crust tough or chewy. The egg batter has a nice flavor due to the addition of cinnamon and other spices. The toast has a nice crispiness to the exterior and an almost custard-like texture to the interior. It comes served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, butter and syrup. This toast is so good that I get it almost every time I come to Manny's.

Manny's Uptown Kitchen is located in the Gateway Shopping Center right off of Highway 183 in N.W. Austin. With a little something for everyone, Manny's comes highly recommended from the Food Junkies.

Our rating- 4 points of the Lone Star

Monday-Friday: 7:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M.
Saturday-Sunday 7:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M.

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