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When Rafael Hasid shuttered neighborhood standard Hill Diner, it seemed that the promise of a proper Israeli breakfast was retreating ever further into the horizon.

Hasid reopened the spot this month as Miriam, a second location of his modern-Israeli concept, which has held court in Park Slope since 2005. The Israeli breakfast survived the switch unscathed. Gothamist credits Miriam with breaking the falafel autocracy to which most Israeli restaurants in New York have resigned. But that Hasid’s formula has come to include French toast, short ribs and a pirate’s haul of traif makes us wonder if there isn’t an uncharted gray area.

LabnehNot to say Miriam doesn’t reference its roots. Indeed the menu speaks of the region’s incalculable fruits—from an abundance of briny fishes, brick red harissa, creamy nests of labneh with pools of herbaceous oil and burekas, or stuffed puff pastries, with pots of green tahini and garlic-laced skordalia.

But the menu, with all of its braising, reducing and crusting, promises more than it delivers. Beer-braised short ribs were as tender and unctuous as any we’ve tried, but the beer flavor failed to assert itself and the accompanying noodle kugel tasted burnt and far too sweet for the dish—all told, it felt like a missed opportunity. The Lamb Tagine, served with a red wine reduction accented with fig, was similarly cloying.

There are standouts, to be sure. The Grilled Escolar, was a buttery filet topped with a layer of savory chorizo and kale. It sat in a delicate wine sauce with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and golden beets. It’s an elegantly conceived dish, but an irresponsible one, given the fish’s tendency towards rather unpleasant gastrointestinal problems.

The brunch menu is rife with the usual suspects, interspersed with more targeted offerings like the aforementioned Israeli Breakfast—a Shepard’s salad shaped into a neat disc, labneh and two eggs. Diners after a departure from the omelets, poached eggs and bacon that eclipse the menu can also choose Shakshuka, or baked eggs in a tomato-pepper sauce, Burekas or a Mediterranean Crispy Dough served with eggs atop shredded tomato with harissa and pickles.

Miriam makes fine work of rearticulating Israeli cuisine, and with a lighter hand, might well emerge from the “lack of identity” (their words) that seems to burden it. But if the cacophony of cooing babies and oxford-clad patrons that took over the Cobble Hill space on a recent Sunday is any reflection, the neighborhood doesn’t seem to mind.

Miriam
[Cobble Hill]
229 Court Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
718-522-2220

[Park Slope]
79 5th Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11217
718-622-2250