Restaurant Review: Mishiguene at Intersect by Lexus, New York City

Pre-pademic dining at Intersect by Lexus in Manhattan

By Jonathan Spira on 4 December 2019
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Mishiguene.  The Argentine transliteration for the Yiddish “meshugene” (in Yiddish, משוגעןע), i.e. crazy.  This is the name Chef Tomás Kalika, known for his interpretation of dishes of the Jewish diaspora, chose for his restaurant in Buenos Aires, and for its outpost in New York City at Intersect by Lexus.

Don’t speak Yiddish? Neither does the wait staff but you probably know more Yiddish than you may think.  Bagel, blintz, glitch, kvell, maven, nosh, schlock, and yenta are all Yiddish loanwords prevalent in English and Mishiguene gives each diner a short list of important terms that aren’t as prevalent, including bubbe (grandmother), geshmak (taste), oy vey (an interjection of exasperation), and chutzpah (nerve).

Run by well-known restaurateur Danny Meyer and his company, Union Square Hospitality, Intersect introduces a new global chef-in-residence several times a year. Kalika is the third chef; the second was Sergio Barroso, who helms the highly regarded Restaurante 040 in Santiago, Chile, who followed Gregory Merchant of Frenchie, which has locations in both London and Paris.

The gefilte fish at Mishiguene at Intersect by Lexus

Lexus adopted a very different approach with Intersect than other automotive brands have taken with restaurants, brand experience centers, and even theme parks.  In the space designed by Masamichi Katayama, founder of Wonderwall, visitors interact with the brand in a space devoid of automobiles but nonetheless is all about the automobile.  The automaker hosts special events here and the public is welcome to experience the brand and also the café on the ground floor, but the real destination is what’s upstairs.

Kalika’s takeover of Intersect happened in early September and I had the opportunity to visit two times in October and November.  Visually, there’s little if any evidence that anything has changed at Intersect until you are presented with the menus, which are the chef’s modern interpretation of the cuisine of the Jewish diaspora from his catbird seat in Buenos Aires.

Broadly put, Kalika brings together flavors from Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East in a way one’s Jewish grandmother ever could, given the broad range of spices and flavor palettes the chef draws from, no doubt inspired by his Argentine upbringing and apprenticeship as a chef in Israel.

Click here to continue to Page 2Pastrami Short Ribs and Forklifted Tongue

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