All throughout Greasy Spoons Week, food writers and friends of Eater have been writing about their favorite diners. Now, downtown restaurateur Jim Chu of the dearly departed Jo's shares memories of his favorite diner, B & H.[Bess Adler]
When I was first asked to contribute to this feature, I was honored to be included among some of my favorite contributors to Eater. In no time at all, this feeling gave way to confusion and anguish.
I have spent years in every diner in my neighborhood, from Leshko's and KK to Ambrosia and Moishe's on Grand and Bowery. These places are long gone. For the last few years, the restaurants I go to most frequently that fill that category of affordable, come-as-you-are comfort food lie mostly in Chinatown. But this isn't about writing a treatise on diners and greasy spoons. This is about a favorite. And if there really is one place that I can chose that has never let me down, it's B & H Dairy.
Many an electron has been misshapen to point out how Manhattan is dead, and the East Village has been over for 20 years. If there is any reassurance in this, it is that these exact words have been said for 30 years. B & H Dairy was almost 30-years-old in 1971 when the locals spent the night bopping between The Electric Circus and Fillmore East. It wasn't long after that when my mom would bring my brother and I there on the weekends or after school, when she didn't have time to make dinner between two jobs. There were dozens of diners in the neighborhood that were little more than lunch counters. B & H has the luxury of four deuces along the wall and a four top in the back, but it's not the kind of place you bring a crowd to and hang out.
The H in "B & H" refers to health, though I think that when the place opened, it meant that you got an extra dollop of sour cream with your pierogies. Nowadays you can supplement your breakfast with a shot of wheatgrass or juiced kale (I don't remember when that started). But for me, it's gonna be the sunny side up eggs and challah toast for breakfast, and maybe a housemade blintz for good measure. Not hungry? Get an egg cream. Catch a cold? Mushroom barley soup and some thick slices of that challah. Just leave it off your list if you must have that kielbasa with your pierogies — it's a dairy restaurant, remember?
When you stop by, say hello to Mike. He's the new guy behind the counter there — he's only been there for eight years, but he's quick with a smile and will make you a regular in no time.
— Jim Chu
· All Coverage of Greasy Spoons Week [~ENY~]