“Let Jezebel dismiss all of your previously held notions about Kosher dining” reads the Soho restaurant’s website, a lofty claim since so many have tried but almost none have been able to achieve. While the NYC kosher eatery may have had a rough opening this summer, its website promise may now actually be true.
Like many others here in NYC with an eye on the Jewish and kosher food scenes, I was eager to experience Jezebel when it opened. As I wrote last week, prior to my recent re-visit to the restaurant, I wasn’t impressed when Jezebel first opened its doors; in fact I had easily written it off.
But with a new chef (Chef Chris Mitchell), updated menu and attitude overhaul, I can happily share how impressed I was with the establishment. Others have tried to break the mold before without success, but it just might seem that Jezebel has finally done it.
To look around the dining room upstairs at Jezebel, it truly could be any other downtown eatery – young crowd, attractive waitstaff, low lighting, ironic wall art. And then you start to realize the subtle ways in which Jezebel’s kosherness peeks through: the chandelier made of shofars (very cool – where can I get one!?), the faces of famous Jews looking down from the walls, and of course the occasional table full of bearded, payos- wearing men.
There is very little I could critique where the menu was concerned – the risotto was a pretty perfect consistency, good flavor and topped with delightful, crunchy porcini mushrooms that made a nice contrast with the creamy rice. I also loved the “mac n cheese” side dish which was really impressive considering it had no dairy in it.
By far the stand-outs were actually the wine and the dessert. Before I am a cook or a writer, I am a baker and a well-known snobbish skeptic of pareve desserts. But Jezebel’s chef has truly mastered creating “non-pareve tasting” pareve desserts. The husband and I shared the granita, bread pudding and semi-freddo and all three were exceptional. But among the three the hands down winner from the entire meal was the semi-freddo, made from a base of non-dairy creamer! Like the mac n cheese, the silkiness of the dish was a real surprise. I nearly had to fight my husband to give it back to me.
I was less impressed with the hamachi, which I thought could have been sliced thinner and flavored a little more strongly. The lamb chops were good, if not a bit sweet for my taste (the husband, however, loved them) and the braised short ribs were not a disappointment. The flavor of the cumin-spiced meatball appetizer was right on point.
The sommelier was incredibly knowledgeable (and very nice) and the wine list is impressive. My favorite was the O’Dwyers Sauvignon Blanc, which interestingly enough, was also Time Out New York’s favorite wine when they reviewed Jezebel over the Summer. Great minds think alike.
So what next for the ground-breaking eatery? Beginning Monday, January 7th Jezebel will be hosting Havana Nights each week featuring a live band and cigar rollers among other features. Don’t want to cook for Passover? They will be KP and featuring a full Passover Seder for the first two nights of the holiday this March.
You can check out Jezebel’s updated menu, located at 323 Broadway in Soho. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, that is, unless you are looking to kvetch.
Over the Summer a new restaurant made waves all over the New York area media – a new, super-chic kosher restaurant called Jezebel was opening in Soho. This was going to be the restaurant to eat at, to be seen at and the kosher restaurant to finally break the mold – as trendy as a non-kosher restaurant; as delicious as a non-kosher restaurant; and as expensive as any other restaurant in the Soho neighborhood attracting a hip crowd, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.
I tried to get a reservation at Jezebel, and couldn’t. So I just showed up, and was rudely told I wouldn’t be able to order anything at the bar. I asked around, and didn’t hear rave reviews about the food (or the treatment of staff) from my fellow bloggers and Jewish foodies, and so I just moved on. While I don’t exclusively eat in kosher restaurants, I have sampled enough kosher fare in NYC, LA, Washington, DC and Israel to know the difference between the kosher restaurants that will last, and the ones that will open and close as fast as you can say chutzpah.
My own preferences for kosher establishments in the New York area include Soom Soom (UWS and midtown), The Hummus Place (multiple locations), and Chopstix in New Jersey – places that are unpretentious, consistently good and where you can get a decent, kosher meal for less than $15.
I recently had an email exchange with the PR manager from Jezebel, and he shared that the restaurant had made some significant changes since their rocky opening over the summer and I should come and give them a second chance – new chef, lower priced menu (no more $18 cocktails!) and what seems like a new attitude.
So in the spirit of the holidays, forgiveness and new beginnings, my husband and I are heading there this weekend to see for ourselves. Date nights being scarce in our house with a 6 month old…I am hoping our night out will be worth it! Stay tuned for my update next week.
In the meantime…Shabbat Shalom everyone!
My mom used to say that anyone who needs to tell you how wealthy or smart they are, probably isn’t. And that’s the best way I can describe Jezebel, the latest trendy Kosher restaurant to hit the NYC city scene. It is very trendy, and they’ll be happy to tell you so, but food and service seems to suffer at the hands of Soho hipness.
Grub Street categorizes Jezebel as part of the “Jewish-food trend,” but I would separate Jezebel very distinctly from the Jewish-food trending of Gefilteria, Kutschers Tribeca, Mile End Deli and Jack’s Wife Frida, where updated Jewish food takes center stage. Jezebel aims to be cooler-than-thou and kosher but its menu and décor doesn’t feature anything overtly Jewish (unless you count the superimposed faces of Barbara Streisand and Jon Stewart) which I assume is intentional. Kutschers, Gefilteria and others all celebrate traditional foods such as schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), sustainable gefilte fish, smoked meats and fish and the beloved matzo ball soup all while giving the foods a modern twist.
Ha’artez recently heralded that Gefilteria is “bringing sexy back” with their updated takes on the traditional Jewish dish and even Bartenura Moscato wine is garnering unexpected attention from rappers such as Drake and DJ Khaled as The Jew and the Carrot reported earlier this week.
You won’t find a Moscato “Bartini” on Jezebel’s drink menu, but you do have your choice of $18 cocktails and $20 appetizers. I am loving the Jewish food trend, but must admit, I may never be cool enough for overpriced Kosher food downtown. So pass me some Moscato.