Friday, December 18, 2009

Odyssey: La Michoacana and State Street Bistro

How can space be the final frontier when the unknown is infinite? Cable T.V. has allowed the common psyche to know more about the wonders and people of Freedonia or Samoa than those offered by their own backyard. New Haven Eats It decided to explore unknown eateries of the peripheral Elm City. The eateries of the dust and rusty streets of Northern State Street and Grand Ave. Once these two areas acted as main streets. Now they have turned into corpses by white flight and outsourcing.

We visited both La Michoacana of Grand Avenue and the State Street Bistro on two separate days. Both days were frigid and grey, matching the looming old smoke stacks and shanty town urban planning of the two areas. Growing in these cold shadows of abandoment, once home to Italian tri-colors and bakeries, resides the future of New Haven cuisine: Honest, homemade, delicious, and affordable.

La Michoacana is not for the cowardly diner. Standing behind a barbed wire fence, this former garage is the most welcomed discovery in this blog's short, but rich history. If heaven is truly a place on earth, does it really have to be this cold? If you live like Hans and Mendez, you too should bring a yak fur lined coat as there is no heating. The prices are ridiculously affordable, ranging from a dollar fifty for a taco to slightly under fifteen dollars for a dinner. We spent thirty dollars for three delicious dishes each, and four beers.

La Michoacana is not the appropriate venue to bring a date, aunt or Whistler's mother to. You bring an appetite and good friends. Although our server bordered on being a ghost, it felt applicable as Hans and Mendez debated the literary merits of War and Peace.

Street State Bistro and Pizza is not the best place to sit and eat. The restaurant is still young, months old and offers only a television standing like an eerie monolith. However it's warm and jolly service made us feel wanted. You're given attention; eye contact is made and you can chat away like with a friend. The food is a greatest hits collection of New Haven fare: pastas, pizzas, Greek salads, pastrami sandwiches, chicken and waffles. But State Street Bistro transcends the familiar, turning a steak and cheese submarine sandwich into a mouthwatering out of body experience. Even the french fries, done to death everywhere you can spit at, are refreshing. Crisp, homemade fries makes one wonder how normal, deep fried frozen potatos made it.

America was not built by men in silk suits (who funded it), by pundits (who talked about it), or curators (who oragnized it); it was built by men and women in dungarees. In recent times since the global economic meltdown, America has reminded itself that it is not great because of its excess, but because of its ingenuity. These restaurants are the new American Cuisine, represting the new American face. Sometimes the face is a little bit darker than the old, sometimes paler. Sometimes with a grimace or a wide toothed grin, almost always handsomer. Modern times make the American hungrier for the gobbled up American Dream, the dream which is his to have by birth. We will not glorify their hunger pains, nor the violence brought against oneself and others by those pains. We will not glorify that lack of have and the abundance of want like a neo-realist film. Instead we will advise the American to lower his head in grace, to embrace his dinner guest and to be thankful for the kitchen gifts he is about to receive. Great food was not devised by men in silly hats, the sun also rises.