By Elizabeth Lenhard
When reviewing a place called Oy, it seems appropriate to start with a little borscht-belt humor, courtesy of Woody Allen: “There’s an old joke: Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’”
One could argue that bad food in massive quantities is even worse.
One could argue this with authority after a meal at Oy.
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Oy stands for “Overindulgent yumminess.” Hence, the 2-pound mountain of smothered fries; burgers that are big on their own and even more insane when you triple the patties; giant ice cream treats; and extreme pancakes stuffed with chocolate or bacon and served on pizza platters, because nothing else can contain them.
Sounds like big fun, doesn’t it? Even if you’re reticent at first, the servers will rile you up. They announce every dish with a glint in their eyes, like infomercial hosts: But, wait, there’s more! Then they plunk down pancakes big as baby blankets, dyed red and squiggled with white icing. Next come caramel-drenched slabs of French toast casserole the size of phone books. Now, get ready for some teetering triple-stacked burgers.
Collectively, we diners ooh and aah. We take pictures and tweet them, since table tents stationed around the restaurant egg us on to do just that. But. eventually, it’s time to actually eat these parlor tricks, and that’s when the party ends.
I should note that Oy encourages sharing. It has invested in very tall stacks of takeout containers. The restaurant isn’t necessarily promoting food waste and gluttony when it serves such massive portions. Yet, at my table of seven diners, we wasted a lot of food.
Only one dish was delicious. It was the French toast casserole, a fluffy, custardy challah pudding with chewy, caramelized edges and a buttery, brown-sugar aroma.
The rest of the meal wasn’t just bad, it was an existential despair kind of bad, the kind that makes you envision landfills, factory farms and the marshmallow-shaped humans of the movie “Wall-E.”
The sparsely decorated storefront didn’t help matters. Painted battleship gray and dark brown, with sun-blocking shades drawn even on a drizzly day, there was a bleakness to it that even the energetic servers couldn’t dispel.
Our vast bacon pancake was gummy and heavy, and its smattering of embedded pork tasted a little rancid.
The Farmer Giant omelet was minimally stuffed with slimy, overcooked spinach, khaki-green bell pepper chunks and bitter tomato bits. Worst of all, the egg was thoroughly browned and rubberized. I imagined that the omelet had overcooked as the poor griddler struggled to find a spatula big enough to flip it.
You know it’s hopeless when you try to give an overcompressed, overcooked burger a passing grade because it features a few crunchy pickles. Or when you note that the thick-cut fries did have nice crispy edges before they were squelched by a plastic-like blanket of congealed queso.
I don’t know which is more depressing: the way this food had me groping for silver linings or that a line of eager customers snaked from counter to door.
But here’s the thing: One of those sunny servers who helped us was Adam Scott Jaffe, who owns Oy with his wife, Allie Jaffe. It was Adam who had our thick chocolate milkshake divided into four small cups — each with its own whipped cream poof and cherry on top — for the four kids at our table. And it was Adam who kvelled about the deliciousness of the Chuck Wagon burger. I truly believe he was speaking in earnest, which means I don’t think the Jaffes are cynical in their excess.
In fact, I think they’re piling a whole a lot of love onto those pizza platters.
It doesn’t make me want to eat at Oy again, but it does help me forgive its terrible food — and such large portions.
7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. 2355 Cumberland Parkway, Vinings. 770-989-1901, oyrestaurant.com.