Through blintzes and cheesecake, the legacy of Leah Spielberg lives on. Milky Way was opened in 1977 by Bernie and Leah (LeeLee) Adler (mother of Steven Spielberg). Her spirit and charm made the place feel like home to many, and Milky Way closed its doors when she passed. However, the best way to honor the dead is to remember them, and Mrs. Adler's children celebrated her memory by revamping and reopening in 2019!
The 2,600-square-foot restaurant, which seats 50 in the main dining room, features warm wood, welcoming gray and cool blue tones, creating a bright and inviting environment with hardwood floors throughout. Six horseshoe booths line the dining room wall overlooking the action, redone with shades of blue. The parallel wall features banquet-style seating, adjustable to accommodate parties large and small. The bar – previously unfunctional – has been completely redone and can now serve an additional 13 guests, an ideal spot to enjoy a glass of wine or beer.
The little touches that honored the Spielberg children remain, now placed delicately and strategically throughout the restaurant. The hallways are lined with framed film posters as well as family photos. Farther into the restaurant, a cozy corner pays homage to Ms. Adler herself – a comfortable bench is set up alongside a piano, where diners can enjoy a glass of wine and watch a tribute video. A tabletop with some of Ms. Adler's favorite books, and an area rug, converted from the restaurant's old, red-flowered carpet – a design near and dear to the family – further decorate the space.
The new menu features The Impossible CheeseburgerTM with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, American cheese, and thousand island dressing on a sesame seed bun, served with fries. The Famous Fish Chowder, which includes halibut, Yukon potatoes, onions, celery, and leeks, is well-known. Another option is the Pan-Crisped Barramundi, topped with blistered tomatoes, crimini mushrooms, garlic, basil and lemon butter sauce served with wild rice pilaf with almonds.
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Some of Ms. Adler's original recipes have also been elevated with a modern spin. Signature dishes include Leah's Cheese Blintzes served with strawberry preserves and sour cream, Salmon Puffs – a long-time, a much-loved signature dish featuring crispy pocket, cream cheese, scallions, and herbs – and the Potato Latkes with house-made apple compote and sour cream. Another option not to be missed is the Eggplant Parmesan with marinara sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil.
Dessert features Leah's Classic Cheesecake – another original. The restaurant also serves kosher wine by the glass or by the bottle and a selection of bottled beer.
The Milky Way now also offers valet parking during lunch and dinner services, a welcome change in a neighborhood where park spots are notoriously tricky to find.
While there is much to celebrate with the new Milky Way, what hasn't changed is the restaurant's attitude. Leah Adler is still in the room – her life and spirit preserved in the photos, posters, and tchotchkes that carefully speak to her legacy – supported by food and wine that is still kosher, delicious, and accessible. Milky Way is, after all, a neighborhood kosher restaurant servicing the community with class and style.