Chef Daniel Serfer has worked at his share of tasty restaurants, but when it comes to taking himself out to eat, he says he grew tired of the "rigamarole" of fancy establishments. "I just want to go somewhere I can get food I like," he explained.
In the spirit of 'if you want something done right, do it yourself,' Serfer opens retro-fresh Blue Collar today in the charmingly dilapidated Biscayne Inn in the Upper East Side's MiMo District. The one-room diner throwback is sparklingly clean, charmingly painted in whites and blues over pale wood floors, and topped off with humble decor like vintage metal lunch pails, mid-century modern chairs, and pointy planted succulents. But even more comforting than the surroundings is what's on the menu: everything mama used to make, and nothing too complicated: creamy mac and cheese, vaca frita topped tostones, shrimp and grits with bacon, burgers to cordon bleu to heaping plates of pasta and a "veg chalkboard" that's 19 vegetables strong. Though some of the dishes are classics, they're all done with a modern twist: the Supreme Pizza Rolls, for example, come fried to perfection in a puddle of fresh marinara, deliciously far from your childhood go-to bag of bland.
What we can heartily recommend: everything we tried, pictured below, but especially the caramelized brussel sprouts, soothing bowl of mac, and the truly out-of-this-world Butterscotch Heath Bar Bread Pudding -- which was so good, in fact, that we didn't care at all when Chef Serfer laughingly told us of out-egging a disdainful French pastry chef to achieve the pudding perfection.
Blue Collar opens today at 6730 Biscayne Boulevard, across from the MiMo Balan's. Parking is available at the Biscayne Inn, and daily specials are announced via Twitter. Tonight: "rib: baby backs, braise : oxtails, parm: chicken." Grab your coat.