I get my kicks intermittently at best – but I sure got some this morning at Shopsins.
I first heard about Shopsins in the early nineties, when a younger me extricated himself from impending nuptials, moved to the city and dated a girl three blocks from the original spot on Bedford & Morton.
I made my way happily through the meal, accompanied by frequents grunts of joy, all the while pretending I wasn’t a little starstruck.
We found ourselves the sole patrons one slow weeknight accompanied only by chef/owner Kenny Shopsin and now late wife Eve. I had no appreciation just how special the moment was. Pretty consistent behavior for my dumb-ass at the time.
It would be over ten years before I’d return to Shopsins – even when I found myself living blocks from their current spot in Essex Market. I wasn’t hip to it. I got on the bandwagon after the Shopsin documentary “I Like Killing Flies.” I won’t lie. You wanna make something of it?
This morning I took the F to Delancey and bellied up to the counter where Kenny was already holding court. Son Zack popping in and out of the kitchen, Kenny expounding on local news (Chris Christie), waiter Luke experimenting with a (bacon?) milkshake.
Zack hands some pecans to a young girl (two-ish) bouncing on her dad’s knee. She starts chewing.
“Are these pecans?” the father asks.
“Yeah, she’s not allergic to nuts, is she?” Zack responds.
“Don’t you think that question is a little late, you asshole?” Kenny barks lovingly.
Thankfully, the presence of the two year old does little to sway the vocabulary. If you don’t want to hear the word cocksucker over breakfast, you might want to eat somewhere else. I prefer it with breakfast.
I planned on ordering something new (there are literally hundreds of choices on the menu) but went with my steady dish the Ova; perfectly poached eggs over bacon cheese grits and (fried?) buttered toast. I’m drinking some excellent coffee while I wait.
Kenny is telling us how most habaneros come from Belize just as a caddy of squirt-bottled hot sauces is placed in front of me. Written in black marker on one; Belize. The super hot one, I’m told.
“You’ll be the first one to try it,” Kenny says.
I don’t eat hot sauce, but what the hell. When Zack takes the Ova out of the oven and places that hot pan in front of me, I look down, make a mental note that I’m lucky, and squirt a dab on the side.
“Just a little,” Luke warns.
Well, I liked it enough to refill a few times. It was smokey and attacked the palate in a way that still allowed you to taste everything. I made my way happily through the meal, accompanied by frequents grunts of joy, all the while pretending I wasn’t a little starstruck. These people are the real deal. This is the kind of well prepared tasteful decadence you’d be super-lucky to get anywhere.
“This is awesome,” I say to Zack.
“Oh, thanks, man.”
I paid my check and put on my coat, turning just in time to witness the two year old tasting bacon for the first time in her life.
(Spoiler alert! She loved it.)