A kosher place suitable for a date?
I have a first date this weekend who keeps the Kosher, and I'm perplexed where to take her. I have a long list of favorite restaurants in Manhattan, but as far as I can tell, none of them is kosher. And to make things even more complicated, I'm a vegetarian.
There are several kosher/vegetarian places in NYC, but the ones I know of are not suitable places for a date, especially not a first date. I don't need a Jean-George level of posh, but a grungy Indian joint won't do.
I know of a couple in midtown -- Haikara Grill, which is Japanese, and Shallots. You probably want to call ahead and make sure they have some vegetarian dishes.
There's Va Bene, glatt kosher Italian, on Second Avenue, on 2nd Avenue between 82nd & 83rd Streets. It's date-worthy, good food, and, while it's not vegetarian, I'm sure you can have a meatless meal there.
I know just the place for you. If you're not afraid of Brooklyn, The Greens in Brooklyn Heights has absolutely magnificent kosher vegetarian food. I've loved everything I've tried there. I highly recommend the battered sesame soy protein over broccoli (#39). It isn't super-fancy ($8 per entree at most), but it's classy enough for a date and there are big windows in the front overlooking Montague Street. They take reservations, I believe.
Plus, when you're done eating, you can stroll along the prominade overlooking Wall Street and the East River. It's two blocks from the restaurant and easily the most romantic view in the city. The whole area is great for a walk. Great architecture. You can even walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, which is also lovely. I did that on a date once, and while I remember nothing at all about the guy, the walk was enchanting.
Don't be scared by the location-- it's the first stop in Brooklyn on the N, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains.
Bailey, I wouldn't go so far as to say the Greens is classy. I thought it was somewhat dirty and just typical regarding decor, even though the location is terrific. I don't know why Rockstar would need reservations because whenever I have been there (at regular dinner times) it has been empty. As for the tastiness of the food...I would say "eh." They are hit and miss. Their photos inside the menu are helpful, but, come on, no classy restaurant has photos.
Needless to say, I was taken on a date there following the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and it was not to be forgotten.
If you go to a vegie/Kosher resturaunt, you really should make sure of your date's level of strictness when it comes to keeping kosher. For some strange reason, most (perhaps all) of the kosher vegie restaurants are not under the most reliable rabbinic supervision. Why, you ask? I think it all comes down to politics, but if you ask someone else they might tell you something different.
Keep it safe and go to one of the standard kosher restaurants, as mentioned Va Bene, or if you want to splurge Tevere 84 or Le Marais.
If she's liberal and Kosher, then one of the vegie restaurants would be good.
A new one I have discovered is Organic Grill on First between 7th & St. Marks. Food is yummy (better than Angelica Kitchen, I think), healthy, plentiful, affordable, and kosher!
re: Rachel Molly
"For some strange reason, most (perhaps all) of the kosher vegie restaurants are not under the most reliable rabbinic supervision."
Please elaborate on this. What do you mean by "not the most reliable"? You say you think it comes down to politics. Could it be that meat restaurants require more supervision because all that vegetarian restaurants have to do is show the rabbi that the vegetable and dairy ingredients they use are kosher, and their hygienic practices are sufficient, whereas the kashrut of meat is inherently much more exacting? This is the first I've heard of all of this. The person I know best who's Orthodox and keeps kosher is my godmother (yes, so called because she's my mother's oldest friend and would have been my surrogate mother if my parents had died while I was a kid), and I'll ask her for her take on this, if I remember.
Pan, you are correct that there seem to be more "exacting" needs for a meat restaurant. However, when it comes down to it, any eating place that touts itself as kosher needs to have supervision. There are different organizations that do such services, such as the Orthodox Union ("the O-U"), the O-K, the Chof-K (this has a little Hebrew letter called a chof with a K written inside it). I would say these are among the top/most respected/reliable places that give supervision.
As mentioned, none of the Kosher vegie places that I know of are under these orgs. I say it comes down to politics because my belief is that all of these rabbis who go in and supervise are all, well, rabbis. I believe they are all orthodox in training, but much of it comes down to (unfortunately) the rabbis reputation or what people are saying about that person's reliability regarding their kashrut. Hence, the "politics"
I really don't know the ins and outs of the Kosher supervision industry. However, some one might say a particular place is unreliable because the rabbi or kosher supervisor isn't always on the premises. I don't know if the vegie places have a kosher supervisor there all the time (perhaps becauase of that very reason that they're only using vegetables and dairy, and less exacting than the meat). This is why it all comes down to politics. It gets into the nitty-gritty of the Jewish legal system.
Old school kosher people might say, "hey, if it's kosher it's kosher." But I believe there is much more education these days in the world of kosher laws (which is a good thing), and therefore the educated are more discerning.