Leicester Road, Golders Green and Broadway
The Kosher food scene in New York and England
The New York kosher scene is high level.
I’ve been lucky to spend a several summer breaks in the city that never sleeps and even though I don’t particularly care for the restaurant experience I’ve checked out many of the restaurants there. From Kosher Delight (no longer in existence, but great for a cheeky burger near Times Square) to Abigail’s and Le Marais (great for a cheeky steak, frites & salad near Times Square) I’ve found sushi near Wall Street and kosher churros on the Upper East Side. Outside of Israel it’s the best place for a kosher konsumer.
Stephen Rosenthal wrote about his time spent sampling the cuisine during a recent break there, he also bemoaned the state of kosher food in the UK, wondering why the Kosher scene in London and Manchester don’t come anywhere near.
Well it’s a numbers game. New York City had 1.1 million Jews in 2012.
In England we have 291,000.
When you have 1.1 million Jews you have a market. You can offer cheap pizza and Prime Grill and still have room for more restaurants. When you have 291, 000 you don’t have that same market. You are already starting with one arm tied.
The Jews of New York also live and work in Manhattan, so there is a market for restaurants for people to go after work or with their families. The Jewish community in London may work in central London, but they don’t live there. Munch n Crunch recently opened in Hatton Gardens to service the workers there, and you can get DD’s sandwiches at various supermarkets. Reuben’s is an establishment, but the Bevis Marks restaurant has had to close. I don’t know why it closed but are there restaurants rushing to fill its place?
That’s London where the Jewish population of England is concentrated. Manchester doesn’t fare any better. No kosher restaurants in town and a range of Hermolis sandwiches on Deansgate. Yum.
We should also consider culture. The culture may not be the same in the Jewish cultures here as it is in the states. Especially Manchester.
Consider Rare. Good food and ambiance. Didn’t last long. But compare to the other restaurants the are doing well in Manchester (or at least surviving). Where is the demand? Everyone says “we need more” but the places that are here can close during the middle of the day and close early on Sundays!
This will change, more people are moving from London, the community will grow, and the demand will grow but it won’t get anywhere near New York’s levels!
I think there are cultural differences at play too. Manchester culturally (in the kosher eating community) doesnt eat out as much as the london one. For example, I recall walking down golders at 10pm on a sunday, Isola Bella, Pizaza, Novellino, White House and Soyo all busy We just about have 5 kosher restaurant in manchester. Closed at 10 though.
And from spending time with Americans in Yeshiva they were certainly more eager to go out and eat in comparison to the English boys. Perhaps a cultural thing. I’m not a culturologist.
It’s nice to have places to go to eat, to have variation, true. But there is nothing wrong with what we have in Manchester, you can get some good food. There isn’t a range true, but then there are the benefits of living in Manchester which one could argue can’t be measured in burgers.
London is doing better, it’s a bigger community, there are great restaurants across the spectrum, catering to all palates and budgets, and the same thing applies, the London Jewish community is great, it’s complemented by the great restaurants but offers much more than the food!
Plus it also makes going to New York that much more exciting :)