London – Kosher-Style Delis

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The following are not actually certified as Kosher, so they must be designated “kosher-style” or sometimes people just call them “New York Deli” style.

They have been institutions in London and are still very popular. The recipes are authentic, even though the ingredients are not Kosher, necessarily.

  • Gaby’s is centrally located and ideal for those visiting for the theater district or an inexpensive lunch on the go. It serves a range of meals encompassing the cuisines of the Middle East, Greece and Italy. The plastic menu photo-cards seem unbelievable portions, with huge piles of delicious food and steaming soups, but if you order from that menu what you get is what the photos show – mounds of food. The cheaper options are either on a written menu which includes several delicious pittas OR cheaper still is the salad selection. You choose the salads yourself from an enticing deli counter. The staff are friendly but are slightly over-worked. The place is full of noisy, happy people throughout the day.

    28 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DB 4233
    Neighborhood: Covent Garden
    Telephone: 020 7836
    Transport: Leicester Square (Northern, Piccadilly), Covent Garden (Piccadilly), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly, Bakerloo)
    Price Range: ££
    Good for Groups: No
    Good for Children: Yes
    Takes Reservations: No
    Waiter Service: Yes … so, so, in fashion
    Outdoor Seating: No
    Mixed reviews: 3 – 4 “stars”
    Cuisine: Jewish, Middle Eastern
    Year Opened: 1965
    Meals Served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-away
    Dress Code: Casual

    Consider going to the Phoenix Garden with your take-away lunch from Gaby’s. It’s a 6 minute walk to this private garden which is a gem and isle of quiet. Gind it at: 21 Stacey Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H —- Opening Times 8.30am-dusk.

  • Nosh Bar: This is the re-incarnation of a London restaurant which was originally established after WW2. It was then situated on the same street in Soho, near London’s theater district, and had 2 others on the same street as competitors. About 20 years ago, the cafes closed. Recently, a business opened under new ownership and was somehow allowed to use the same name, without any connection to the original family. It was a savvy maneuver, as many people don’t realize there is NO connection, and the recipes may not be “authentic”. People think the “original” has “returned”. But, best as I can tell, it has not. However, the food still gets very high marks.

    As I said, this used to be a great British institution after World War 2 but closed down in the 80s. It is still being touted as the best salt-beef (“corned beef”) sandwich place in London. For those who are not aware, salt beef is brisket of beef which has been brined. It still needs a long and careful and gentle cooking process to retain the moistness and flavor. Nosh Bar sources its already-cured briskets from Henson’s Famous Salt Beef in North London, which uses meat from grass-fed Irish steers and heifers, but the secret is in the cooking, every bit as much as the brining.

    Salt beef should be served on a firm rye bread and aficionados approve of the rye bread served here. Several generous slabs (yes, slabs) of the meat is piled onto the rye bread and then is slathered with mustard – a classic version of a corned beef on rye sandwich.

    Nosh Bar also does some other Jewish dishes like chicken soup and bagels (or beigels, as the Brits spell the word). Windmill Street is slightly off the beaten track of Shaftesbury Ave but just a few shops away, a multitude of people were eating McDonalds, blithely unaware that just 30 or so steps away, was a truly quality experience where theywould get a far superior sandwich for £4.95. How infuriating that people flock to McDonalds instead, out of habit.

    Neighborhood:Soho, London. Address:39 Windmill St, London W1D 7LX
    Phone: 020 7734 5638
    Transport: Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly, Bakerloo), Leicester Square (Northern, Piccadilly), Tottenham Court Road (Central, Northern),
    Hours: Mon-Thu. 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Fri-Sat. 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
    Average Meal Price: £10 – £20 per person
    Disabled Facilities: Wheelchair Access, NO Disabled Toilets

  • Harry Morgan’s has several outlets in London and its famous Kosher-style food is not actually certified Kosher at this deli restaurant and they offer items of both meat and milk, which is never allowed on Kosher premises.

    Harry Morgan’s central location also makes it hugely popular with non-Orthodox and gentile customers dropping by for coffee or others shopping in the exclusive shops nearby come to eat from an enticing and extremely affordable menu. The fish is especially good, and there are all kinds of items on the deli counter that are hard to find outside New York City, e.g. their salt beef (“corned beef”) tastes good. Harry’s is a lively, friendly place with everything you need for a wonderful lunch or dinner; its decor has been modernized and is upbeat and airy.

    And, it does not close for the Sabbath, like real Kosher establishments do.

    It is far different from Harry Morgan, the original owner. He was a local St John’s Wood butcher, who perfected the cure for his much-celebrated salt beef way back in the 1940s. He opened a salt-beef bar in 1948, and his wife took it over when Harry died. Then, she sold the business to an employee, who in turn sold it in 2000 to a group of partners including Mitch Tillman, who runs it now.

    Old-timers remember the salt beef around that time being amazingly good – all pink, moist and steamy, lace-edged with golden fat – and the heimishe (kosher) pickled cucumbers being the best ever, including those of The Pickle Guys just off Delancey in New York’s Lower East Side.

    But, the Tillman group has changed everything. In the need for space, the modernization eliminated the Servery. No longer are steamy briskets of beef on show, and now you do not see them being carved.

    Now the waitresses are all young and maybe without the wealth of law and lore and experience that helped make Harry’s special. But if the food is still mostly decent, that’s the main thing.

    There’s still a menu section for the “greatest hits”. So, along with the salt-beef (from the kitchen), you can still get kosher chicken soup, along with “petcha” (calves’ foot jelly), chopped liver, wursht (German salami) and eggs scrambled together (delicious!) and Hungarian goulash.

    The mixed chicken soup (£3.95) comes with either: kneidlach (matzo ball), kreplach (dumpling) and noodles. Is it any good? Of course it’s good, and it smells good. It tastes good, too. The clarity of this soup is the reward for constant skimming. However, even though the soup itself is miraculous, the kneidlach are likely to be gluey, the kreplach is stodgy and the noodles are soft because they sit too long. For each order, they should be quickly dumped in a smaller pot of hot soup, just like a good Jewish Mama would do at home; she would never let these items “sit” in a soup! Later visits show that maybe they are learning this!

    Even their corned beef can suffer if it’s kept too long. They seem to need to manage the ebb and flow better. But, many people now feel that Selfridges and Gaby’s do a better job with the salt-beef brisket these days.

    The beef tongue is good, tender and sweet (it you have never tried tongue, do; it is not a queasy experience). It’s great that they still serve versions of real home-style traditional Jewish foods. There is a children’s menu, eat-in menu and take-away menu.

    Harry Morgan’s
    ___ in Harrod’s department store’s Food Hall, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL T: 020 7730 1234 ext. 2997 Opening hours: Mon – Sun 11am to 7.00pm
    ___ 31 St John’s Wood High Street, St John’s Wood, NW8 7NH Telephone: 020 7722 1869 Mon – Fri 9am to 10.30pm, Sat – Sun 10am to 10.30pm
    ___ Fenwick Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, London NW4 3FN
    T: 020 8202 1999 Mon – Fri: 10am to 7pm, Sat: 11.30am to 6pm, Sun: 9.30am to 6pm
    website: Harry Morgan’s kosher restaurants, London

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