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Jewish "Dairy Restaurant?"

Can someone please explain the concept behind a Jewish "dairy restaurant"?

Did a quick Internet search, but couldn't find a really satisfying answer.

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  1. Not sure what you mean exactly, but Jews (who are kosher) are not supposed to serve milk and meat together. Hence the dairy service/restaurant/meal. A Jewish dairy restaurant wouldn't serve any meat products so that it's kosher. For some reason, according to Jewish law, fish (with scales, etc, no shellfish) can be served with dairy, so you will find tuna, salmon, pickled herring, mackeral, etc. in a dairy restaurant.

    6 Replies
    1. re: pescatarian

      Pescatarian, knowing you're a Torontonian, there are a few Jewish restaurants around the Lawrence/Bathurst area that specifically bill themselves as "dairy restaurants" - and I noticed the same turn of phrase in NY last weekend. I'm sure it does have something to do with Jewish dietary laws, but wondered a little more about this particular convention?

      1. re: Rabbit

        I think the term, whether in NY or TO, has the same historical significance. There are just more Jews in NY so, probably more dairy restaurants. Twenty/thirty years ago, you might have found more dairy restaurants in TO.
        I really don't think there is any other reason for this particular convention than the dietary restrictions that originated the need for them. I don't think most people frequent them today necessarily for the dietary reasons, but that's where the need for such a restaurant came from.

        1. re: pescatarian

          The original Yiddish is "milchika" or "milchadika" for dairy and "fleishika" or "fleishadika" for meat. Fish can be served with dairy but (for the traditional, at least) not with meat.

          The direct translation of "milchadika" is "dairy", so it became "dairy restaurant".

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            oh, das uber, you always know everything- the modern pronunciation of those yiddish words is "milchig" and "fleischig". And fish can always be eaten at the same meal with meat.

            1. re: fara

              I don't remember the why, but although you can eat fish at the same meal as meat, you cannot have them on the same plate or, for that matter, even use the same utensils.

              1. re: fara

                milchig and fleischig are also the terms in German (although Yiddish is derived from earlier German, not all terms are identical). Two of the Jewish people I am closest to are German-speaking - neither keeps kosher but are well versed on those issues. Of course one also sees the Hebrew terms - chalav is dairy; basar, meat. If I recall, the Hebrew terms are used in France, where there are roughly equivalent numbers of Ashkenazis and Sephardim.

      2. You'll also find many traditional Eastern European dishes such as blintzes, matzah brei, hearty vegetable soups such as lentil and bean, and things served with gobs and gobs of sour cream.
        The late Ratner's on the Lower East Side was a classic example.

        Fish may be served with either dairy or meat because it is parve, ie neither meat nor dairy. The parve caategory includes such things as eggs, vegetable, grains, etc. There is a tradition (not a law), though, of not serving fish and meat on the same table at the same time. So you would clear the gefilte fish appetizer off the table completely before serving the roast chicken.

        Try Googling "Ratner's" and see if an old menu pops up. That should help clarify the definition for you.

        1. To elaborate on pescatarian explanation, in a kosher Jewish home, because of the prohibition against mixing meat and milk it's very common to serve "dairy" meals, which exclude all meat or meat-derived ingredients (like broth, for instance). So there is a whole culture that has grown around dairy cooking - foods that are very heavy with eggs; cheese; picked or smoked fish; noodles; vegetables. A dairy meal might, for example, feature cheese blintzes (crepes rolled around a cottage cheese filling, then pan-fried), noodle or potato kugel (casseroles baked with various ingredients - sweet or savoury), gefilte fish (like a fish meat loaf, only poached) or other fish dishes - either cold platters or otherwise prepared.

          For a kosher restaurant to serve both meat and dairy dishes would be very complicated since it requires an entirely separate set of cooking facilities, plates and cutlery - and the separation of the two elements must be strictly observed. Most kosher restaurants are, therefore, either dairy or meat. If they serve meat, any "dairy" type ingredients will actually be non-dairy facsimilies. A kosher dairy restaurant will simply omit the meat ingredients altogether. Oddly - as mentioned above - fish can be served with either meat or dairy as it's considered a sort of neutral food. And, of course, shellfish is out of the question entirely.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            Exactly, thanks Nyleve.

            Also, to add there are certain times where dairy meals are traditional - i.e. breaking the fast on Yom Kippur - otherwise known in my family as the carb fest :)

            1. re: Nyleve

              There is a famous - and very popular - kosher restaurant in Buenos Aires (sure it has been discussed on either the kosher or South American board here) that is both meat and dairy - but it is actually a "dual" restaurant - two dining rooms, two sidewalk terraces (fenced in, with fence between them) and of course two kitchens.

            2. I remember being taken to a Dairy restaurant on the Lower East Side (most likely Ratner's) when I was very young. And it was as described by Rockycat, the term Dairy Restaurant at least in those days not only indicated that the restaurant limited its food to only Dairy products, but described a style that included the mostly traditional Eastern European dishes.

              More recently I had lunch at an Italian Kosher Restaurant in New York whose menu limited itself to only dairy or parve dishes. While this restaurant was kosher dairy it was not a Dairy Restaurant.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chazzer

                The dairy products and Eastern European dishes go hand in hand given that the majority of Jews in NY and TO would have been of Eastern European heritage.

                1. re: chazzer

                  Do you mean that if the cuisine is not Ashkenazi in origin, it is not a "Dairy Restaurant"?

                  I have seen a very similar expression used in Paris for a North African (Sephardic) restaurant. Obviously such establishments must also exist in Israel - such as the very popular pizzerias there. I have certainly seen kosher pizzerias in France that state "lait" or "laitier".

                2. Ahhh - got it. Thanks for the responses.

                  1. Why do I suddenly have this really, really intense craving for cheese blintzes?

                    Pescatarian, Nyleve and Rabbit, want to meet me at United Bakers for lunch?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: FlavoursGal

                      What a plan! I live about an hour out of Toronto - maybe on my next trip into town...

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        Definitely! As discussed on another thread that was obliterated yesterday from the Toronto board, we can even start a "Maven's Club."

                        Read http://www.themonthly.com/food-02-07.... if you haven't already done so.

                    2. I agree with most of what's been said on this board, but with one caveat: Jewish-style dairy does not automatically equal kosher dairy. Cheese dishes are prevalent in most of these restaurants, and most commercially available cheeses are not universally considered kosher due to the presence of animal-derived rennet and other enzymes. So just because a restaurant is labelled as dairy-only, or even as Jewish-style dairy, does not automatically qualify it as kosher. (Just as Jewish-style delicatessans are not always kosher.)

                      For the record, I'm not getting into a debate here regarding hotly contested religious standards about what is kosher, which I know is a taboo topic on this site. I'm just saying that "Jewish" does not equate to "kosher."

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Arthur

                        You're absolutely right, Arthur. Rabbit, since you're the original poster and you live in Toronto, you might want to know that United Bakers Dairy Restaurant is not certified kosher, while the nearby Dairy Treats and Milk 'n Honey are (and the latter two are closed on the Jewish Sabbath and on religious Jewish holidays).

                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          I moved to Toronto just a couple of mos. ago and can't help wondering: as long as United Dairy is going to go to the trouble of foregoing meat, why not go to the extra trouble of getting kosher certification (especially in THAT neighborhood, where it really would make a difference in terms of patronage?)

                      2. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 50s-60s, we always had "dairy night" at least once a week. Mom usually made tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad and cole slaw, things like that. I never was sure if it was because it was less expensive than meat (especially for a family of 6), the ease of preparation, or just a cultural thing. We didn't keep kosher (tho my mother was raised that way, and my grandparents still did), but some of those rules stayed with Mom for years.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: rednails

                          I don't want to indiscriminately bump.. but this is exactly the stuff that I love.

                          1. re: rednails

                            Ah, speak memory! In our home in Queens in the same era, Wednesday night was always dairy (and no, we weren't kosher either although my mother was until she married my father who - as the story goes - simply wouldn't give up his bacon and eggs). We usually started with tuna salad or one of my mother's soups (split pea, lima bean-mushroom-barley, cold borscht or schaav with sour cream in summer) followed by her sublime blintzes - more sour cream! - or cottage cheese pancakes sprinkled with sugar. Summer desserts were usually berries (straw or blue) with - guess what - more sour cream!; in winter it would be something baked - rugelach, pie, her "apple charlotte", or maybe a baked apple (no sour cream on this one - just a little heavy cream). We always looked forward to it, and looking back, it's easy to see why.

                            I also loved going to Ratner's or the nearby Rappaport's. Great breads, and at either one our meal always included an order of kasha varnishkes with mushroom gravy. As a kid, I loved Ratner's "Hawaiian Delight" dessert, which consisted of a sliced pineapple covered with honey and dusted with coconut.

                            1. re: Striver

                              I forgot dessert--yep, berries and cream. I didn't like either at that age, tho now I love strawberrries, not blueberries. Soup might have been (homemade) vegetable, which I didn't like either--too many lima beans.

                              1. re: Striver

                                Hahahaha Ratners. Just a few doors up from the Fillmore East. So we used to go in and order a cup of coffee while waiting for the early show to be over and the late show to start. MAYBE order a single piece of cheesecake among, like, 4 of us. And, of course, devour all the pickles on the table and eat the rolls. Those waiters must have just HATED us.

                              2. re: rednails

                                I used to spend a few weeks with my grandmother in Bkln when I was a kid and she did this several nights a week. After my grandfather died, she never felt like heating up her un-AC'd kitchen on a hot summer night to roast a chicken or whatever. Gilfilte fish, potato salad, shaav and iced tea. So good!

                              3. What delish memories--of the many dairy lunch counters and cafeterias throughout NY that served everything striver describes and more. I remember sitting next to old men for whom a bowl of cold borscht with sour cream, onions, and boiled potatoes, a side of challah, and a big wedge of cranshaw melon (so seasonal, so exotic) was heaven. To say nothing of the appetizing stores that were in essence dairy--selling only smoked fish, cream cheese, pot cheese, salads, and, for some historic reason, lots of sweets.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: obob96

                                  Boy have you got me salivating

                                  I was long an affictionado of the Grand Dairy Restaurant, Ratners and the like. I would readily travel the hour from my home to enjoy the vegetable cutlet with kasha varnishkes an mushroom gravy, the blintzes, the soups, I could go on by why torture myself

                                2. "Let's make a batch of cheese blintzes this wekend." says Mrs Jfood. "then we'll freeze them and have to eat over the next few weeks." Me, I'm there 24/7 to make them. So on one of the trips

                                  On one of my trips to the store, i take the crumpled piece of paper out of my pocket with the shopping list. Smiling as eachingredients goes into the cart, I pay, wonder home, place the items by themself in the fridge and go about my normal routine.

                                  Sunday arrives and we wake up, have a cup of coffee, read the paper and I smile at Mrs Jfood and say, "So when do we start making the blintzes." Later that morning she shuffles to the counter and makes the batter for the crepes. The crepes are my job, and have been since I was 10 years old. Into the pan swilrs, excess back into the bowl, wait, slide the spatula under the crepe and "bang" onto the towel on the counter.

                                  Mrs Jfood finishes the filling and grabs the crepes, fills them and gives me that "come hither" look to fry some up to see if they meet our expectations.

                                  Batch 1 - Fried, eaten. Little jfoods come into the kitchen and want some.
                                  Batch 2 - Fried, eaten
                                  Batch 3 - Gotta have some more.

                                  All of a suddent they are all gone.

                                  Oh well always next week for another batch

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. But from this former Brooklyn boychik (who is trapped in the body of a Jersey resident), my family used to go on an outing to the Jewish Dairy restaurant on W 72 Street, west of Broadway (also of course, both DuBrows, on Kings Highway at E 16 St and Eastern Parkway at Utica Avenue, next to my father's store. Ah, the luxion kugel with cherry sauce. Ah Machiya!

                                    1. Here's what I always wondered. How come pickles are not a dairy restaurant standard? They go with everything, as far as I'm concerned.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Dim Sum Diva

                                        Not from a Jewish standpoint. It just doesn't work. Pickles go with deli meats, chopped liver, steak. Not with blintzes, lox and onion omelettes, smoked whitefish.

                                      2. I love B&H Dairy in the East Village (NY). They have delicious soup that comes with challah with or without a huge wad of butter on it. yum. The food is so comforting and dirt cheap!

                                        1. mmm speaking of dairy restaurants does anyone here remember the [long gone] grand street dairy on the les in nyc? corner of grand [and ludlow maybe?]. the waiters there were the absolute surliest i've ever come across, but they did serve up some awesome blintzes.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ericalloyd

                                            i remember that dairy restaurant very well. i never had blintzes there but i do remember that they had the most amazing apple and blueberry cakes -- both with a crumb topping. went really well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
                                            i also remember a great dairy restaurant on 14th street - i think it was named Hammers.

                                          2. I think I remember that restaurant too. I do remember that the waiters were loooong past retirement age. Kinda sad, in a way.

                                            1. Have any of the NY CH's eaten at Garden of Eatin on Avenue J? I never liked it,but it seemed THE place to go when I was in college and you were in the mood for that kind of thing.

                                              1. WOW!! All of this is making me hungry!! and Smiling I am reading a LInda Sunshime book my fav really "Bambi Goldbloom" and all the food talk in it got me to looking on the net for what the foods were Stuffed Derma and Dairy Finding this and all of you was a Happy Surprise and reading all the wonderful memeories too We never really know how much food and family are tied till we start sharing memories or ask a question like you remeber your fav summer foods and always they link back to home Being half Hawaiian and Half Southern I have a host of different foods and memeories that bring me back but also too I find the hardest search for my cultural foods Poi aint easy to find in Texas !! thanks for a ggreat time reading and Learning Rabbit you are Awesome to ask a question that sparks such warm and Tasty memories!!

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: leoboyo

                                                  I second that emotion. when I was very young, I remember visiting my Grandparents and eating (avoiding) a lot of these foods. Foe lunch, we used to trek to a dairy restaurant (Famous?) on 13th Ave I remember how delicious the blintzes tasted, and how gross I thought cold borscht with sour cream, looked. :-} Invariably, we stopped and picked up pastrami/brisket/corned beef for dinner.
                                                  Family meals were so important. That whole tradition of families gathering to share meals and conversation is becoming a lost way of life.... It's very unfortunate.

                                                  1. re: Tay

                                                    There were two dairy restaurants my folks took me to...at Eastern Parkway and Utica Ave (Brooklyn) was Famous Dairy (diagonally opposite DuBrows and my fathers TV store, Municipal Radio), and Dairy Restaurant on 72nd Street west of Broadway in Manhattan. Were there any in NJ?

                                                    1. re: MoxieBoy

                                                      I seem to recall one in either Teaneck or Tenafly.

                                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                                        Tenafly has multiple, or it did five years ago last time I went through.

                                                2. A Jewish "Dairy Restaurant" is one that does not serve either meat or poultry.
                                                  This custom is derived from a Biblical Commandment stated three times in the Torah- Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; and Deuteronomy 14:21. The commandment is stated as follows: Do not seethe (cook) a kid in its mother's milk.
                                                  This commandment is interpreted to mean that meat and dairy products cannot be eaten at the same meal. The Rabbinic Sages extended this Law to include kosher poultry and fowl as well. After eating a meat ,or poultry meal, a period of up to six hours must pass before dairy products- milk,cheese, butter etc. can be eaten. After eating a dairy meal, a time period of usually one hour is required before meat or poultry can be eaten. Also, dishes and utensils used for meat cannot be used for dairy. A separate set of dishes and utensils are required for each type of meal.
                                                  The Sages did not extend this law to include fish. Therefore fish can be found on the menu of a Dairy Restaurant.
                                                  There is much more to these Laws, but you get the picture.
                                                  This, basically, is why you find kosher meat restaurants and dairy restaurants.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                    You are right, doctor. For historical/demographic reasons, in North America it tends to refer to certain Ashkenazi specialities, "Americanized" in a certain way. (Can't imagine iced tea in Poland). I've seen many Sephardic dairy restaurants in Paris, imagine they exist in Israel as well?

                                                    In Buenos Aires there is a famous kosher restaurant with a meat side and a dairy side (it is actually two adjoining restaurants, belonging to the same owner). Since with their cows - and sheep in the south - they have a lot of meat and a lot of cheese. This has been posted on at this site. Think it is in the district of Palermo.

                                                  2. My mother used to take me to the Famous Dairy Restaurant on Utica Avenue and we would always have the noodles and pot cheese. My mother loved the white fish; I didn't because it had lots of big bones. They also served borcht and chav and fruit soup and had good bread or challah and butter.

                                                    1. Rappaports and Ratners, two wonderful Jewish Dairy Restaurants in NYC--lower east side (I think): onion rolls, veg barley soup,private parties, singing. 1968-69 I think. The Cauldron and The Paradox also, not Jewish, but terrific part of the vegetarian restaurant scene of the day. Reminiscing. All gone. Will check out some of the replacement suggestions next time I'm in the city. Judyanandi