Everyone who knows me knows about my unabashed love for sinful, guilty and sometimes just plain comforting foods. Shopsin’s General Store, located in Essex Market, covers all 3 of those categories, and more. Their menu must have at least 400 items, I may be underestimating, and I would recommend studying it a fair amount before venturing in. One of the things Shopsin’s is known for, aside from an incredible array of delicious — and sometimes wacky — dishes, is having limited seating and even more limited patience. Much like Seinfeld’s much-famed soup Nazi, Shopsin’s main (only?) waiter (son of owner Kenny Shopsin) does not deal with questions, does not give recommendations, and has little to no tolerance for indecisive patrons. All that being said, every time I finish a meal at Shopsin’s I immediately begin to wonder when I can come again, without giving off the impression that I have absolutely no regard for my arteries.
I have had a dizzying array of food from the menu, all in the breakfast/brunch category, and each better than the last.
One of my favorite things on the Shopsin’s menu are the “Silvercup Breakfast Stacks.” These consist of: (1) pancakes; (2) meat; (3) cheese; and (4) eggs. Now, what makes up these four categories is devised by the brilliant mind of Kenny Shopsin, and, although the combinations sound absolutely absurd to most people I excitedly discuss them with, I can assure you that they are delicious. My personal favorite, number 4 on the stack menu, consists of poached eggs, butterscotch pancakes, BBQ duck and swiss cheese. Unfortunately you cannot substitute anything in these stacks. I, for example, asked if I could have Mac’n Cheese pancakes instead of butterscotch and was answered with a dirty look and a shake of the head. In any case, the layers of meat, cheese, duck, egg yolk and sweet pancake work amazingly well together, and I have ordered that stack more times than I care to admit. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is partial to the chili, Mac’n Cheese pancake, sweet ricotta and scrambled egg stack. It’s delicious, and the chili is very well seasoned, but nothing beats a runny egg for me at breakfast/brunch.
One look at the Shopsin’s menu will also tell you that their creativity knows no bounds. Their pancake/french toast options range from Mac’n Cheese pancakes (which go great with their homemade hot sauce and maple syrup — strange, but delicious) to frosted flakes, pecans and cheddar pancakes to the “Tupelo”, a perfect combination of banana, bacon, brown sugar and peanut butter. As you can see from the picuture, tha pancakes are slightly crisp on the outside and stuffed with warm, melted peanut butter and banana goodness. You might them they would be overly sweet, but the bacon is a good, crisp balance, and we consumed them far faster than was healthy. I also need to throw a shout-out to the “Mo’ Jemima”. A look at the current menu describes it differently than when I had it, but the Mo’ Jemima I devoured was cheddar french toast stuffed with poached eggs and covered with bacon/onion marmalade. It tastes as incredible as it sounds.
Shopsin’s also has a huge variety of breakfast “trays.” Essentially 3-4 items from their menu arranged on a tray and separated out for those of us who do not relish the idea of combining egg yolk and butterscotch. I enjoy them, and one is pictured above, but if push came to shove my preference will always be letting Kenny Shopsin do his thing and combine flavors that have seemingly no business together while I sit back and enjoy.