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.
This week Jon Stewart called for the Jews to “take it up a notch” since our traditions couldn’t possibly compete with a fun filled Easter basket full of treats, and well, he’s not wrong. But in terms of Jewish cuisine, chefs around the country are definitely stepping up their game when it comes to Seder menus and Passover offerings.
My good friend in New Orleans recently sent me the Passover menu at Domenica that she got to experience, and wow was I blown away looking it over! Homemade matzah, Matzah Ball Soup with Duck and Escarole, and Pomegranate Lamb Shank, just to name a few of the dishes featured at the meal.
Tons of restaurants, both kosher and non, feature their own unique takes on the traditional Passover seder. For example in NYC Chef Julian Medina of Yerba Buena and Toloache features a Passover seder menu with a Mexican twist, including a spicy take on Matzah Ball Soup, Tacos de brisket in a matzah tortilla and matzah brei tres leches for dessert.
And Kutschers Tribeca (my favorite Jewish food joint) features high-end, yet traditional Jewish fare during the week of Passover.
The Jew and the Carrot has a more complete listing of Gourmet Restaurant Seders in NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and Los Angeles, and with a few days left of Passover, you might still be able to catch one!
Reviewing these menus, I ask myself: is the fuss of cleaning, cooking, planning and prepping worth it when top notch chefs are taking on the Passover challenge?
For now I probably will continue to plan my Seder menu two months in advance, but I love getting inspired from these chefs’ innovative versions of our traditional holiday fare.