★★★★☆ / Jewish

Mishkin’s review – definitely not kosher

Eat well, for we rise at dawn-ish

Despite the longstanding Jewish presence in London, there are remarkably few Jewish restaurants of note outside of north London. This makes Mishkin’s, located in Covent Garden next door to The Opera Tavern, all the more remarkable. The food at Mishkin’s isn’t kosher though, the presence of pork on the menu is a glaring example of that, so it’s best thought of as post-modernish Jewish-ish.

This hasn’t dented the popularity of the place though. Despite having only a couple dozen covers, the place is always heaving whenever I walk past, so reservations are essential. The small restaurant has the vague feel of an American diner to it, from the checkered floor to the bar and cosy booths and tables. Service is quick and efficient and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a restaurant created by the same people behind the Polpetto/Polpo/Sputino empire.

interior of mishkin's

The management insists on candlelight at night, which poses challenges and opportunities for snap-happy restaurant bloggers.

I dined at Mishkin’s with The Bastard. At this point I would usually insert a snide comment about The Bastard’s completely unimaginative, bourgeois, meat-oriented meal choices, except this time as some of his picks turned out to be better than mine. I started off with the cod cheek popcorn which wasn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds. The small chunks of slightly chewy cod would have been completely forgettable if it wasn’t for the light and fluffy deep fried batter they were encased in. Some slices of mild chilli peppers also helped, but there wasn’t enough of them. An interesting name, but a rather dull dish in reality.

cod cheek popcorn at mishkin's

Everything looks more dramatic by candlelight. Even a dish as boring as this one.

I paired the cod cheek popcorn with some inoffensively mild sauerkraut and an all too-small helping of cauliflower and caraway coleslaw. The thin slices of cauliflower were firm and crisp, while the caraway added a star anise-like flavour. It’s the oddest, but most interesting ‘slaw’ I’ve had in a while.

sauerkraut and cauliflower and caraway slaw at mishkin's

Don't be afraid, they're only vegetables.

The Bastard was suitably awed by his massive salt beef sandwich served with Colman’s mustard and pickles. There wasn’t quite enough mustard, but each table has its own bottle of the stuff so more can be applied if necessary. I was suitably impressed by the tender strands of flavoursome beef, although there weren’t quite enough pickles and the bread was functional rather than memorable. Still, even a mouthful of the salt beef sandwich was more satisfying than the cod cheek popcorn.

salt beef sandwich at mishkin's

BEEFCAKE.

In a unusual display of gluttony, The Bastard decided the salt beef sandwich wasn’t enough meat for one sitting so he also ordered the all-pork hot dog. The huge sausage was firm, juicy and irredeemably meaty. Thankfully the stodgy bread did a good job of soaking up all the juices and there was plenty of mild sauerkraut to add some variation to all that lovely pork. The Bastard’s eyes were clearly too big for his stomach though as I had to help him devour it all.

pork hot dog at mishkin's

A pork hot dog. Definitely not kosher.

As The Bastard endeavoured to finish his chunk of the all-pork hot dog, I ordered another, smaller dish to help me pass the time since The Bastard, when not wolfing down pork, was more interested in texting than engaging in conversation. I ordered the whitefish and spinach knish which resembled a dumpling or pie, unlike the sausage roll-esque version I encountered at Mile End in New York. I wasn’t expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised by the soft doughy exterior giving way to lots of firm, salty fish and tangy, sour spinach, the flavour of which was accentuated by the mild, herby parsley liqueur served in a jug on the side. It won’t be for everyone, but I liked it.

white fish and spinach knish with parsley liqour at mishkin's

Think of knish as a kind of bun.

Despite giving our friendly waiter an insipid and ultimately unfruitful grilling about the lemon drizzle cake (‘is it super special lemon drizzle cake?’), The Bastard seemed morosely uncommunicative about the merits of his dessert, merely shrugging when I pressed him on it.

lemon drizzle cake at mishkin's

'Is it super special lemon drizzle cake?' FFS.

I was busy wolfing down my own dessert of apple honey blintz, a small rolled up pancake stuffed with apples and honey and then cut into three chunks. Although it could’ve been larger, I nonetheless enjoyed the tangy apples and delicately sweet honey wrapped snugly together in the thin, exceedingly soft pancake which had more honey drizzled on top.

apple and honey blintz at mishkin's

Think of it as a crepe if that helps you.

The Verdict

Mishkin’s isn’t perfect and if my meal with The Bastard is any indication, you’re more likely to get a satisfying meal by sticking with the meat-in-bread dishes than with some of the more quirky mains. Still, there are some tasty gems to be had on the menu which is nothing if not a novel break from the usual run-of-the-mill dining options in and around Covent Garden. A solid four stars.

Name: Mishkin’s

Address: 25 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JS

Phone: 020 7240 2078

Webhttp://mishkins.co.uk/

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 11.00-23.30 and Sunday noon-22.30.

Reservations: essential.

Total cost for one person including soft drinks but excluding tip: £23-30 approx.

Rating★★★★☆

Mishkin's on Urbanspoon

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5 thoughts on “Mishkin’s review – definitely not kosher

  1. Where is the meat?

    Two wafer-thin slices of meat – and you’re calling this a Reuben.
    It’s more sauerkraut than meat. And it’s more bread than anything else.
    If I wanted a loaf of bread, I would have gone to a bakery.
    Are you joking?
    Marks and Spencer makes pre-packed Ham sandwiches with more meat than this thing!
    I’ve never seen such a stingy sandwich, let alone a Reuben.
    A place like this would be laughed out of existence in New York, New Jersey – or any state in America for that matter.

    Shame on you Mishkin’s

    What a let down… I will never return again.

  2. I ate at Mishkin’s on Sunday afternoon because I fancied the taste of a Reuben. Of course, I prefer my Reuben with Salt Beef rather than Pastrami… so when I ordered my Reuben I asked the waitress if she could make my Reuben using Salt Beef rather than using Pastrami. She said, “Sorry Sir, we don’t do that here.”

    I was a bit taken back, because it said on the menu that they also serve Salt Beef sandwiches. So it’s not like they didn’t have any Salt Beef on hand in the kitchen.

    The very moment the waitress said, “Sorry Sir, we don’t do that here.” – that was the moment I should have got up and walked out. But hindsight is always 20/20 and I just assumed they had a very good reason for the rigid policy. So rather than get up and walk out, some strange part of my brain decided to become compliant and said, “OK, I’ll have it with the pastrami then.”

    When the Reuben sandwich arrived on the table, the Pastrami filling was indeed rather slim. But I remedied this shortcoming by forking the pastrami out of one side and putting it all together onto one half, and thereby abandoning two slices of bread. Even so, with all the Pastrami forked over to one side, it was still rather anemic.

    I don’t know why they’re making these sandwiches so paper-thin – but it certainly can’t be good for building a clientele. I certainly wont eat there again.

    As I see it, I learned a valuable lesson. Always go with your initial impression. When the waitress said, “Sorry Sir, we don’t do that here.” – that was the moment I should have got up and walked out. Having said that, I won’t make the mistake again.

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