Talk about hiding in plain sight.Photo: Josh Ozersky
We discovered Schnitzi’s Schnitzel Bar on a desolate stretch of Coney Island Avenue in Midwood, Brooklyn, recently, and were amazed that it took us as many weeks as it did. (It’s been open for two months.) Coney Island Avenue is not an easy place in which to hide a big, modern, state-of-the-art schnitzel restaurant; it’s mostly filled with garages, Indo-Pak kebab restaurants, Judaica stores, and halal butchers. Imagine our surprise when we saw that the place, which seems to have sprung up overnight, was turning out some of the tastiest and freshest chicken-cutlet sandwiches in town.
Yair Isner, the 32-year-old managing partner in the glatt-kosher restaurant, tells us that he and the restaurant’s other owners chose Midwood to launch what is to be a schnitzel chain. “If you go to Manhattan, not a lot of people get schnitzel,” Isner says. “They think of Wiener schnitzel, which is veal. But Jewish people are used to it with chicken. We’re just starting here, though. Queens and Manhattan are in the picture.” The cutlets will be popular wherever they go, as they are noticeably thicker and more flavorful than the average fast-food version, and further improved by fresh herbs, garlic, peppers, and other seasonings, liberally applied. And there’s an air of piety to the place as well: The images of four venerable rabbis appear on the wall, gazing benevolently over the counter. “Two of them are Sephardic, two Ashkenazi,” Isner says. “I learned in New York to be politically correct … you put two of these, you put two of those. I don’t want to offend anyone.” Who could be offended by the combination of religion and chicken sandwiches? The last time we looked, those were two of the pillars of a virtuous life — at least on Coney Island Avenue.
Schnitzi’s, 299 Coney Island Ave., nr. Ave. J, Midwood, Brooklyn; 718-338-4015.