Passyunk Avenue: ‘A cheese whiz-smeared act of devotion’

Passyunk Avenue Philly dive bar in London

– Jay Rayner

When I visit Passyunk Avenue, a retro diner on a scuffed backstreet in London’s Fitzrovia, the voice I hear in my head belongs to Josh Ozersky. Josh was a bull-necked, raging mensch of a man, who founded the food festival Meatopia, helped pioneer food blogging in New York via the Grub Street site and ended up as restaurant editor for Esquire. Most importantly, he carved out a niche for himself as the chronicler of what he called, “American vernacular cuisine”. His point was compelling: why should the classics of the American diner be any less deserving of love and scholarship than, say, the so-called cuisine de grand-merè of France?

One broiling summer in New York a few years ago, we shot a video together for his YouTube channel, in which he took me to a bog standard joint on 3rd Avenue called Joe’s Jnr. There, he ordered most of the menu and then enthused with the acute eye of an experienced jeweller sizing up a piece by Fabergé. He wanted me to understand the importance of the viscosity of American cheese when melted, and how much better it was for the job than those weird aged cheddars we insist upon.

(The Guardian, 2019, United Kingdom, <https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/mar/10/passyunk-avenue-london-a-serious-amount-of-sandwich-for-11-pounds-restaurant-review-jay-rayner>)