The title of a family owned restaurant comes with a certain connotation. One imagines a wholesome, warm, inviting atmosphere where a bright-eyed young lass invites you inside, ushering you to your table. You hear the patriarch, jovially announcing "Order up!" from the window to the kitchen. The mother of the brood snatches the plate from the window, blowing her man a kiss as she sashays to your table. She drops the plate with a smile and a wink, asking if you'd like to refill your beverage. You think, "why not?", and get the refill. You look around, and feel as if you've been invited into a family's home kitchen, where you are a guest being doted upon. Its the kind of place where you hope to bring your children one day, as sunlight slips through the window and warms your face. You breath deeply, and think that things just can't get any better than this.
None of these things will happen if you go to Shopsin's in the Essex Street Market, which is kind of the point. In this space, roughly the size of a janitor's closet, you'll find head chef Kenny Shopsin. Prone to expletives, abrasiveness, and cooking some of the most deliriously over the top comfort food you'll likely to find in the LES, Mr. Shopsin has become something of a foodie legend… in the "Soup Nazi" sense of the phrase. Offering Tex Mex, Alternative Brunch, Vegetarian Sandwiches, and everything in between, Shopsin's menu is much larger than the actual seating space. However, this is a family restaurant, and Shopsin has hired his children to hand out his deilicious dishes to anyone brave enough to eat at his restaurant. His portions are nothing to scoff at either, as any one of the entrees is likely to send you into a food coma right at your seat.
In a part of town notorious for its "hipper than thou" dining scene, its pretty refreshing to hear a father and his children argue while you indulge on a massive portion of mac n' cheese pancakes covered with maple syrup and bacon. You might feel the family love in the food more than in the atmosphere, but with a menu this unique (in a deranged scientist/chef sort of way), it may not matter.