The Shil-Shul Diaries
The story begins in a cramped booth at the "faux" New York deli 'Noshville' in Nashville TN on a blustry day after thanksgiving November Friday day in 2008. In between my wife, Rachel, and my brother, Michael, I sat across from my "cooler than me" cousins Mark and Sarah, and Sarah's just as cool husband, Danny. Mark, who lives the awesome life being a lawyer living in San Francisco working for Facebook, with his only downfall being his SEVERE lactardation..which has never been medically or scientifically proven to exist in Mark.. Sarah and Danny are foodies from NYC who have tried every dive "chicken finger" hut and "curry on a stick" in the big city. Danny and Sarah had discussed that they were trying to go to as many places from Bobby Flay's 'Throwdown' show as they could, and that there was one in Nashville we had to try.....a place that I had never heard of in my 13 years of living there..I will get to that adventure later.
I got an idea from my cool cousins idea. An idea became a hobby. And the hobby became an obsession. And thus produced the list.....a world-famous spreadsheet...of every restaurant that has ever been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel....every restaurant from the famous shows like "Throwdown", "Man V. Food", "Man v. Food Nation", "Food Feuds", "Food Wars", "Best Thing I Ever Ate", and "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" to the obscure "Best Food Ever", "Meat and Potatoes", and "101 Best Places to Chowdown", plus my additions of the restaurants of famous chefs and local places of legend. Names, cities, food they are famous for, and addresses. It was and still is an obsession. As of 9:24am on January 7th, 2015, THE LIST HAS 3,116 RESTAURANTS ON IT...WITH A FEW OVERLAPS HERE AND THERE. And then over Pastrami Eggs Benedict at Nate N' Al's Deli in Beverly Hills, Hannah and Andrew, our good friends, gave me the idea of the blog. Document every place I went. And thus, "The Shil-Shul Diaries" was born. I will log the places, the shows they are from, and what I had. So far, every place I have been has been amazing, except two, one being mediocre, and another being down right awful.
If there is a city you have been to, or are going to, or are from and want to know what from my list is in the city, send me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 7, 2016
From Man Vs. Food Nation and #33 on 101 More Places to Chowdown
4156 North Oakland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211
Many people say Milwaukee is in the shadow of Chicago, second rate to Chicago, red-headed step child to Chicago.
"If you want a good (insert food here)" But I must say, Milwaukee hold's its own culinary-wise for the most part.
And when it comes to midwest delis, this place is beyond good, its pretty great. IN FACT, I would say after Shapiro's in Indy this is for sure up there. Better than almost any deli in Chicago except the two suburban staples Once Upon A (Insert word here) and Kaufman's"
There are two main delis in town, Jake's and Benji's and everyone likes one or the other, not both. "Jake's is old school" The classic food feud. The best kind of feud in my opinion.
Jake's is one of these delis that set up shop in the early days in the Jewish neighborhood and has stayed put even if the Jewish population hasn't. "Oh Jakes, thank g-d its only open for lunch because it's in the ghetto" says everyone local Milwaukeean (is that what the locals are called?). Bud Selig is rumored to have eaten there everyday...still does apparantly.
Benji's, on the other hand, moved with the times and the customers to the burbs and it is quite wonderful. My wife (the new(est) rabbi in town tried to meet there for dinner and given the amount of congregants who had joined us for dinner by the end, we called it "oneg".
This place is classic, great deli. Casual, fun, menu that could be confused for a college text book. Portions that are the photo of gluttony in the dictionary. I got the Hear O' Israel. "a half-pound sandwich featuring our hand-carved corn beef, pastrami, salami, pepper beef, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and 1000 isle dressing, all piled high on rye. whew!". Outstanding.
If you want a quiet, casual, no frills, giant meal to quench your appetite or warm your soul, Benji's is legit!