Photographs: David Straight
It could have gone so horribly wrong. “The Fed” is a homage to a classic New York delicatessen with diner touches: formica, waitresses in mint green 1950s dresses, bottomless filter coffee. In the hands of Al Brown, though, it works brilliantly – it’s an extension of his bagel-meets-oyster empire (The Fed is next door to Depot, taking over the space that used to be the very awful Red Hummingbird). We like it a lot.
Mainly, it’s the menu. Oh sure, there’s the formica-topped bar and the short-order chefs working away and the green lino floor – you really do feel transported to a diner in Manhattan. But the food makes it – a greatest hits of Jewish New York food. It’s open from breakfast until dinner, and is especially good for lunch. You must eat the matzo ball soup ($16), chicken soup with shredded chicken and “bagel dumplings” – classic Jewish mama food, nourishing and balanced. If you’ve been to Best Ugly Bagels, you’ll be familiar with how good the bagels are, and you might also be familiar with Brown’s highly excellent pastrami – smoky and moist and coming in several ways, on classic rye ($18) or standalone with pickles and mustard ($20). We’re also very fond of the turkey meatloaf ($20), which is moist and nutty and comes with pecans and a celery and green apple slaw. Lemon meringue pie ($11.50): a thing of beauty, teeth-achingly sweet; you’d be advised to share.
And there is poutine. Oh my. This is French fries, covered with a salty chicken gravy and – yes – cheese curds. It’s almost too much – very salty, and the chips get soggy with gravy. It’s actually Canadian: who cares? It’s genius here. SFG
HOURS Open seven days, 7am to late.
ADDRESS 86 Federal Street, ph 363-7184. thefed.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Park in SkyCity across the road and get them to validate your parking. $5!