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Good kosher places


Pan
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bloviatrix posted the following in this thread:

I had duck for dinner tonight.  It was lovely.  The meat was cooked rare, just the way I like it - flavorful and juicy.  The skin was crisp and crackling - a nice counterpoint to the juicy flesh.  Sitting under the slices of meat was a duck confit hash that was very tasty. And the artfully dribbled around the plate was a cherry-syrah sauce.  It was heavenly.  :smile:

::drools::

::falls over::

If I'm following correctly, you had this in NYC. What restaurant did you go to for this dish?

(Unless I missed the flow of the thread and you cooked this one...)

We went to Shallots, which is a kosher restaurant in mid-town. It's one of the nicer, upscale kosher places - David Rockwell designed the space. Great place for business lunches and special occassion dinners.

What kind of prices are we talking, bloviatrix? I don't keep kosher but my godmother does, and I've found that it's hard to find really tasty kosher places on the relatively rare occasions when her extremely busy and taxing schedule allows her to go out with me and my folks. It probably shouldn't be difficult to find really excellent kosher places in New York, though!

By the way, as of a few years ago (the last time and only time so far that I went) that kosher steakhouse on 46 St. between 6th and 7th called I believe Tevere was excellent. You probably know the place.

What other truly tasty kosher restaurants do you know in New York?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Read the NY Magazine review of Box Tree. Never tried it and the review is not very informative. Worth a try I guess.

Box Tree

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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The menus, with prices, are on the restaurant's Web site:

http://www.shallotsny.com/

There's a pretty comprehensive list of NYC kosher restaurants on the KosherLink site:

http://www.kosherlink.com/

You sort of have to divide kosher restaurants into several categories in order to make sense of the whole business. For starters there are different levels of certification and observance. Second Avenue Deli is a good example. Often referred to as kosher, you won't find a lot of Orthodox Jews there because it's open on Saturday. There are also different agencies that provide certification, some of which are stricter than others.

The other division has to do with mission. On the one hand, there are three primary actual kosher restaurant cuisines here: European-derived deli, European-derived dairy, and Middle Eastern. A kosher deli or falafel shop is what it is -- no modification to the cuisine is necessary to make it kosher. On the other hand, there are kosher restaurants that serve traditionally non-kosher cuisine, modified to use kosher ingredients and combinations of ingredients.

There is virtually no reason for someone who doesn't keep kosher to dine at the latter group of restaurants. Even Shallots, which is probably the best upscale kosher restaurant in the country, is pretty run-of-the-mill compared to the non-kosher competition in that price range. And that's not to say it isn't pretty good. If I kept kosher, I'd be extremely happy to have Shallots as an option. But since I don't, I'd never need to eat there other than for journalistic purposes or for a lunch or dinner with people who do keep kosher. There are also some screamingly bad kosher restaurants. For example, almost any kosher Chinese restaurant is going to be just awful.

The former group of restaurants, however, deserve plenty of attention from the non-kosher community. A couple of years ago, while working on a falafel roundup, I became convinced that Kosher Delight had the best falafel in town. And nothing has happened since then to change my mind. Rectangles does a very good job with standard Israeli fare and also has some good Yemenite Jewish dishes. And that Great American Health Bar place on 57th Street is one of the most reasonable and high-quality places in that area when all you want is a quick, convenient, portable lunch.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Pan,

Here's a link for Shallots. We had a mixed a group at dinner last night - not everyone keeps kosher. My brother, who is very hard on anything related to kashrus liked his meal. He had the risotto as an appetizer and said it was excellent.

I haven't been to Box Tree yet, but I hear it's lovely. Apparently, there was a review in New York magazine this week.

Another nice place is Levana. I like this place a lot. I had a venison dish there some years ago that I still dream about. It was slices of venison on a bed of arugala with dried fruits and some sort of reduction. At another memorable dish I had was 3 morels, eached stuffed with different mousse. I will say that I've been disappointed with the way they prepare duck. Levana frequently does special meals with wine pairings.

The steakhouse you refer to is Le Marais, which is actually owned by the same guys behind Les Halles. As a matter of fact, Les Halles, downtown was in its prior life Le Marais 2. I love the onglet here. My complaint is that the restaurant is extremely noisy, but they know how to prepare steak (bloody!!) and the frites are fabulous. Back in my expense account days, this was a place I was willing to take non-kosher steak eaters (I had a lot of them as clients). No one ever complained.

Also, when it comes to steak is The Prime Grill. This place is fancier than Le Marias, but just a noisy. I've only been there once (Christmas Eve,'02) and didn't love the steak I ordered. But, I plan to go back sometime in the future.

Other nice kosher places include:

Abigails. This place draws mixed emotions from people. You either love it or hate it. I know people who have had bad service here, but I've never experienced it.

Trevere 84. The people who own this place own some other non-kosher places. One is called Lattanzi. Again, this place gets mixed comments. I don't particularly like it. But I know others who do.

Haikara. This is Jewish Japanese. There was a time when we would go here a lot and I got burnt out on the menu.

Everything I've mentioned is meat. For dairy:

Va Bene. Pasta and fish. I was there back in May. Very noisy.

My Most Favorite Dessert. This place is hit or miss. Good for brunch or a bite after the theater. Stay away from the Lemon Tart. I had it last month and it was awful. They also have a small cafe that sells sandwiches and assorted salads.

Gusto va Mare. It's been awhile since I've been here, but I liked this place.

That's my list of nicer kosher places. There are also very casual places. If you're interested, I would be glad to provide a list of those.

I will save my litany of complaints about the lack of sophistication of kosher eaters for another time.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Thanks, Fat Guy.

I ate a meal at Rectangles years ago and whatever it was I ate was so fatty that it really seriously upset my stomach. That was the last time I went there.

Azuri Cafe or whatever, that felafel place on I think 10th Av. in the lower 50s, is kosher and makes good felafel. I'm not familiar with Kosher Delight.

The thing that would make me suspicious of Shallots' menu is that they don't stick to one cuisine. I see American, Italian, French, Moroccan, and Argentinian entrees. I've seen this kind of mixed-cuisine menu before at other upscale kosher places (I'm trying to remember the name of the boring but well-respected place I ate at last Thanksgiving that I think was near Central Park, for one example). But I guess it's pretty good then?

You know something, the steakhouse I was thinking of is called Le Marais, I think. (After checking www.superpages.com:) Yep, it is:

Le Marais

150 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

(212) 869-0900

(212) 869-1016 (fax)

Tevere is or was a very expensive kosher Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side, and I never went there.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There is virtually no reason for someone who doesn't keep kosher to dine at the latter group of restaurants. Even Shallots, which is probably the best upscale kosher restaurant in the country, is pretty run-of-the-mill compared to the non-kosher competition in that price range. And that's not to say it isn't pretty good. If I kept kosher, I'd be extremely happy to have Shallots as an option. But since I don't, I'd never need to eat there other than for journalistic purposes or for a lunch or dinner with people who do keep kosher.

Foams haven't caught the imagination of the kosher diner. And honestly, I don't think it ever will. I can just see the reaction....."I paid what? For flavored air?"

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Thanks, bloviatrix!

I have to say that Levana is the place where I went last Thanksgiving, and I was really underwhelmed. In fact, I really can't remember what I ate that evening. My parents didn't really think that much of the place, either, but were glad to find a place where we could break bread with my godmother (my mother's oldest friend) and enjoy her company, and she did enjoy herself despite having a cold at the time.

But please, go ahead and provide the list of casual places. They may be useful to me and certainly may be useful to others.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Foams haven't caught the imagination of the kosher diner.  And honestly, I don't think it ever will.  I can just see the reaction....."I paid what?  For flavored air?"

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There's a pretty comprehensive list of NYC kosher restaurants on the KosherLink site:

http://www.kosherlink.com/

This list is extremely out-of-date. They have places listed that have been out of business for 5 plus years.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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It's not only comprehensive, but also historical.  :laugh:

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Say, I'm trying to remember the name of the upscale kosher place on West 85 St. that I really hate(d). We used to go because my godmother lives right near there, and my stomach reacted like I was eating motor oil. EVERY TIME! So I simply refused to go there again after a few times. Is there something about kosher meat restaurants and overuse of fat?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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This list is fairly up-to-date. The places on here would be acceptable to someone who follows orthodox supervision. It's compiled by the synagogue I attend.

I'm about to do a brain dump..... I should point out that my husband and I don't go out a whole lot. So, I can't give reviews on all these places.

For super casual eating, we're most apt to eat at either Dairy Dougies or Dougies BBQ. Dairy Dougies has the disctinction of being one of the few places with a pastry chef on staff (at most places the desserts are awful. And there's no excuse for this, IMO, at dairy places, where butter and cream are allowed). Stay away from the mozerrella sticks and jalepeno poppers. At Dougies BBQ, I like their burgers. I get them nice a rare, and layer tomato, onion, pickle, etc. We like the wings and ribs. I had a sliced steak sandwich last time we were there. The carmelized onions were good, but I found the meat tough.

Josh's Place has been undergoing a transformation. They've recently gone to waiter service. We were there 2 weeks ago. I had the avocado wrap which was ok. I liked the vinagrette they used, but found the "bread" raw tasting. We're not sure what we think of this place. It's only 6 blocks from us, so our fingers are crossed.

In the east village there's Village Crown which is Morrocan. The nice thing about this place is they have outdoor dining. I ordered the beef shish in July and found it well flavored. I think the appetizers are pretty good.

A nicer, but still casual morrocan place is Darna (UWS). It's been awhile since we've eaten there, so I can't really comment. I do like the room. Plus, I'm friends with the owner.

On the east side, Galil is a tiny morrocan place. I've had some good tagines there over the years. But again, I haven't been in awhile.

There's a new steak place that opened on Amsterdam between 92nd and 93rd called Talia's. I think they're still getting the kinks out. I haven't eaten there yet.

There are a bunch of indian places - both in Curry Hill and then there's a place on 2nd ave and about 5th street. I like Pongol. Dosa Hut has a really cheap lunch special if you're in the neighborhood.

And finally, there's Mendy's. They have a large restaurant on 34th street. But they have a stand in Grand Central Terminal, a small shop in the Rockefeller Center concourse, and a place in the Galleria. Basically dogs and deli.

I'm sure there are other places that I'm missing. If I think of any worthwhile places, I'll post.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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It's not only comprehensive, but also historical.  :laugh:

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Say, I'm trying to remember the name of the upscale kosher place on West 85 St. that I really hate(d). We used to go because my godmother lives right near there, and my stomach reacted like I was eating motor oil. EVERY TIME! So I simply refused to go there again after a few times. Is there something about kosher meat restaurants and overuse of fat?

The place on w.85th is Deli Kasbah (I think they're going by Kasbah currently) which is far from upscale. I refuse to eat there. I think it's filthy.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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There are a bunch of indian places - both in Curry Hill and then there's a place on 2nd ave and about 5th street.

Yes, Madras Cafe. I've been a regular there since shortly after it's opened, and I've brought many friends there over the years. No-one's ever been disappointed. Even my arch-carnivorous ex-girlfriend grudgingly admitted to liking their vegetarian cuisine.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The place on w.85th is Deli Kasbah (I think they're going by Kasbah currently) which is far from upscale.

How about overpriced, then? I recall from what must be a fair number of years ago now that a typical dinner there cost at least pushing $30, for sucky food. That might have been as many as 10 years ago, actually.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There are a bunch of indian places - both in Curry Hill and then there's a place on 2nd ave and about 5th street.

Yes, Madras Cafe. I've been a regular there since shortly after it's opened, and I've brought many friends there over the years. No-one's ever been disappointed. Even my arch-carnivorous ex-girlfriend grudgingly admitted to liking their vegetarian cuisine.

One of the things I love about Indian is that it's so flavorful that I don't miss the meat. They manage to raise simple ingredients like potatoes, chickpeas, and spinach to a higher level.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The place on w.85th is Deli Kasbah (I think they're going by Kasbah currently) which is far from upscale.

How about overpriced, then? I recall from what must be a fair number of years ago now that a typical dinner there cost at least pushing $30, for sucky food. That might have been as many as 10 years ago, actually.

I'm not sure what the prices at Kasbah are, but Kosher restaurants will tend to be more expensive than their treyf counterparts. Especially when it's meat. Kosher meat is more expensive. The cost includes the shochet (the slaughterer) and the fact that a significant portion of the animal can't be sold. Additionally, kosher ingredients tend to be more expensive. There's the cost of hiring a mashgiach. And you'll only be open 5 nights a week (maybe 6 in the winter months when shabbos ends early). Finally, a lot these places don't do the volume/turn tables over with enough frequency.

It's not just restaurants. When I read on this board the prices people pay for meat and chicken, I'm amazed. I pay $12/lb for first cut brisket - and that's cheap! (One day I'll post my story about the $100, 6 lb brisket) Duck is $5/lb (I checked out the price yesterday). I might be able to get my hands on foie gras for Rosh Hashana and it's $59 for 6 oz. Kosher chicken, on sale, or outside of Manhattan, will cost $2.49/lb.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Trevere 84.  The people who own this place own some other non-kosher places.  One is called Lattanzi.  Again, this place gets mixed comments.  I don't particularly like it.  But I know others who do.

Thanks for all this wonderful info.

What kind of food is Trevere?

I remember seeing a kosher Italian place on the upper East side (meat), but cannot recall the name or the precise location -- so never got to try the place. Could this be it? Would love to take my husband out for osso buco.

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You want history? I miss the days (20 years ago) when Levana was a bakery that made the best tuna-salad sandwiches on REAL seeded rye bread. Then Sol saw there was a need for a fancy-schmancy restaurant in the neighborhood. Actually, I have nothing against the current incarnation, but I sure miss that rye bread.

Also miss Chick Chack Chicken on University; the food was good, even if the portions of chicken were so small. :biggrin:

Fwiw, Le Marais was where I had that "creme brulee" I so railed about on the Soy Milk in Kosher Desserts thread. :angry:

Shallots is actually an outpost of a very successful Chicago restaurant. I interviewed there once; Laura (the chef) was very serious about what they do. It doesn't bother me so much that the ethnicity of the menu is literally all over the map. I mean, what better way to showcase "real" food while keeping to kosher principles?

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Trevere 84.  The people who own this place own some other non-kosher places.  One is called Lattanzi.  Again, this place gets mixed comments.  I don't particularly like it.  But I know others who do.

Thanks for all this wonderful info.

What kind of food is Trevere?

I remember seeing a kosher Italian place on the upper East side (meat), but cannot recall the name or the precise location -- so never got to try the place. Could this be it? Would love to take my husband out for osso buco.

Trevere 84 is Italian. I believe they focus on Roman cooking. There's also a Trevere in the neighborhood which isn't kosher, so you have been careful with the names. Another meat Italian restaurant on the East Side is Domani. I haven't been there in about 5 years, so I can't comment on their menu.

Domani is owned by the guys who owned La Fontana. La Fontana was a tiny, 8 table restaurant that was wonderful -- their sweetbreads were outstanding. I could never figure out how they made any money because they had what seemed to be one seating. Of course, it's long gone, so that answers a lot of questions.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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You want history?  I miss the days (20 years ago) when Levana was a bakery that made the best tuna-salad sandwiches on REAL seeded rye bread.  Then Sol saw there was a need for a fancy-schmancy restaurant in the neighborhood.  Actually, I have nothing against the current incarnation, but I sure miss that rye bread.

Suzanne, you're one of the few that realize the Levana started as a bakery and dairy place. People are suprised to find that out. I remember going there for sunday brunch back in the early 80s with one of my Great-Aunts.

As an aside, Levana Kirschenbaum, who is the name behind the restaurant, gives classes. She teaches at the JCC on the UWS and had a series at Lincoln Square Synagogue. She also published her first cookbook last spring. I've incorporated a lot of her recipes into my rotation - I give her credit for my love of artichokes. If you're looking for a kosher cookbook to give as a gift, this is nice one.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I just learned of a new kosher restaurant - Park East Grill. They're owned by Park East Kosher Butcher, which is the most upscale kosher butcher shop in Manhattan. This is where I bought my $100, 6 lb brisket - back in 1994.

The mark-up on their wine list is obscene ($109 for a wine that retails for $22). But the menu looks interesting.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The "Butcher's" being Butchered. A La Lobel's, this appears to me to be very similar. A well intentioned, competent supplier being convinced to attempt a operation with a inexperienced wantobe partner. Cesear Salad / Vanilla Ice Cream? impossable to prepare either and receive Kosher Certification. Classical Cesear Salad requires Cheese. Parve "Vanilla Ice Cream', should be so stated on your menu. To much fusion, not enough TZUUUM, for any Kosher Steakhouse to survive in NYC. Even the balance of items on the menu shouts, incompetence and kitchen waste. Sorry. Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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I don't know if this is a case of them partnering with someone incompetant. Park East has long had a catering arm and this restaurant might be a further extension.

As for the menu, Ceasar is quite common on a meat menu. I've seen it at plenty other meat places. Regarding the ice cream - there's the assumption that people know that it's soy based, again it's no suprise. As for fusion, this menu is very typical. Look at the Shallots or Levana menus (links above).

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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