Talia’s Steakhouse

Located on 668 Amsterdam Avenue, Talia’s Steakhouse combines a phenomenally wide offering of meat entrees with warm, home-style Israeli dining. Owner Effie Nagar works at the house front most evening, and personally welcomes guests as they arrive. As we visited during the Nine Days prior to Tisha B’Av, Talia’s was offering a number of non-meat specials: beautifully garnished fish steaks topped with colourful lattices of shredded vegetables. There’s plenty of starters to choose from, but the fried cauliflower, cigars, and kibbeh were all particularly nice. Cauliflower may not be an obvious choice in a steakhouse, but head chef Romero Ponce’s take on it was truly delicious. Talia’s offers a wide range of entrees: steaks, schnitzels, lamb, fish, and other beef dishes. Be warned, though: the portions are truly enormous. Effie’s staff cook mean steaks (we enjoyed the butcher’s cut), but for variety, I would recommend the lamb shank, BBQ spare ribs (exquisitely tender), and schnitzel. The Moroccan salmon was also excellent. Deserts are good as well (I went for the chocolate lava cake). The general atmosphere is casual and relaxed, and Talia’s opens after Shabbat until 0400 in the morning. Service was fast and efficient, and the price was mid-range. Together with his staff, Effie helped make a very memorable and enjoyable meal. *****

One of Romero Ponce's Nine Day fish options.

One of Romero Ponce’s Nine Day fish options.

Lamb shank and mashed potato.

Lamb shank and mashed potato.

 

Abigael’s on Broadway

Abigael’s is one of Manhattan’s more classic Kosher joints. Its website proclaims that its aims are “emphasizing the flavors of modern America, while setting a new standard in Kosher cuisine”. It certainly lived up to both of them. Award-winning co-chef and owner Jeff Nathan previously worked as a wild game chef, thus entering the Kosher catering industry without many of the preconceived limitations which surround it. The result is exceptionally elegant and delicious food which often fuses international culinary styles. We enjoyed a spicy Asian salad (raw tuna, salmon, and yellowtail tossed in a spicy mayonnaise with sesame oil and spring onion) which perfectly balanced heat, richness, and texture; melt in the mouth Chilean sea bass Thai-style curry, tuna and salmon sushi rolls, buttery-soft beef rib tacos, a smoked brisket eggroll, Chinese dumplings, and desert platter. Food presentation was nothing short of outstanding, and all staff members are intimately familiar with the menu, as well as appropriate beer and wine pairings. Service was relaxed but seamless, and manager Jigi offers all guests a warm welcome. While Abigael’s is one of the more expensive Kosher restaurants, the food and service were perfect. *****

Abigael's ribs and smoked brisket eggroll.

Abigael’s ribs and smoked brisket eggroll.

La Brochette

Located two minutes round the corner from Grand Central Station, La Brochette is another of Manhattan’s Kosher steakhouses. More relaxed than Abigael’s, the food and service were just as good. Our knowledgeable waitress was able to advise on which starters and entrees were particularly good (beef sliders with truffle mayonnaise, short rib spring rolls, and chicken poppers tossed in a chipotle and honey glaze first, shortly followed by Asian BBQ short ribs, and steak), as well as how to pair them with a good selection of wines and beers. For variety, we also ordered a portion of English-style fried cod. Head chef and co-owner Shimon’s batter is one of the lightest and fluffiest I have ever had. His secret? Aerating it with whipped egg whites! La Brochette also has an in-house sushi chef, and fairly standard dessert selection. My only criticism would be a slight lack of options for vegetarians, but La Brochette is a steakhouse, after all. ****

La Brochette's steak. No further caption needed.

La Brochette’s steak. No further caption needed.

Reserve Cut

Located just off Wall Street in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district, Reserve Cut is New York’s swankiest and most exclusive Kosher restaurant. Styling itself as “a modern steakhouse”, Damascus-born owner and master butcher Albert Allaham “hopes to redefine the kosher dining landscape and encourage non-kosher guests to try its superior cuisine”. And superior the cuisine was. On being seated, Allaham’s team bought us an array of delicious sushi (spicy tuna and salmon were particular highlights), blackened peppers, short rib tacos, and steak. For me, though, the real show-stopper was the miso-glazed Chilean seabass. Rich and fatty with an exquisite flavour complimented by the miso glaze’s sweetness, it was served on a bed of pureed carrots. We also sampled a whole fried red snapper, and a patisserie selection for dessert. Combining fine food with elegant service and surroundings, Reserve Cut has a well-deserved reputation for being one of, if not the city’s best Kosher restaurant. *****

The surprise star of this steak house's show: miso-glazed Chilean sea bass.

The surprise star of this steak house’s show: miso-glazed Chilean sea bass.

Grill 212

Grill 212 is located on 212 W 80th Street, and one of Manhattan’s Kosher shwarma joints. But it offers so much more than just felafel and shwarma, both of which were absolutely delicious (the chicken shwarma had been cut through with lamb fat, enriching and deepening its flavour). 212 also offers cigars, kibbeh, pargiot, schnitzels, kebabs, hummus, salads, sushi (try the teriyaki salmon with avocado), and Yemeni beef and chicken soup. While all of these were good, it’s the jachnun that I’ll be going back for. Riki – the co-owner and manager – bought us huge slabs of the slow-cooked Yemeni pastry with sides of grated tomato, techina, hardboiled eggs, and schug. The jachnun was wonderfully sweet and rich, perfectly pairing with the thick techina and sliced egg. Although served as a starter, it could very well have been a main in its own right. Affordable and with quick and friendly service, I hope to revisit Grill 212 on future trips to New York. ****

The best jachnun in New York.

The best jachnun in New York.

Char Bar

Located on 2142 L Street between Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle, Char Bar is Washington DC’s only Kosher meat restaurant. It has a broad, if fairly unremarkable offering of food. Think soups, fried chicken and hummus for starters, and a mix of burgers, steaks, salads, and sandwiches for mains. While not the most innovative or creative restaurants we visited, Char Bar does have some good offerings. The burgers were nice, with the “Western Burger” coming topped with grilled pastrami and sautéed mushrooms, and the “Hickory Burger” accompanied by onion rings and pulled brisket. Char Bar also offers fish specials which vary from day to day. Even though the restaurant was winding down for the night when we ate, service was still slow, and some of the food was a little hit and miss (good onion rings and fried chicken for starters, but overcooked and soggy fries), and it felt somewhat on the expensive side. Nothing was awful, though, and Char Bar still does a pretty good burger. ***

Char Bar's beef burger topped with grilled pastrami.

Char Bar’s beef burger topped with grilled pastrami.