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JEZEBEL REVIEW

I'd been eagerly awaiting the opening of Jezebel for a number of months, so was happy to get a reservation for the Sunday night (7/16) of their second week for me, my g-friend and 2 other friends.

As my girlfriend and I were a few minutes early, the hostess offered us the option of having a cocktail in the downstairs lounge before seating us upstairs. We followed her through the curtains into a very lux and intimate lounge area. There were about 10 tables set up in the lounge area with a velvet-lined bench running around the perimeter (a/c seemed not to be fully functioning, but I assume that was just one of the kinks that will be worked out). There was a very sensual, hip vibe to the lounge and service was attentive. We were immediately handed drink menus, with a small but sufficient cocktail menu. I'm not a drinker, but my girlfriend ordered the "Kosha Nostra" which she thoroughly enjoyed. While we were sitting and enjoying the atmosphere, one of the restaurant's owners, Menachem, came by to introduce himself - which we thought was a classy gesture (he also came by during our meal to check on us)

The rest of our party arrived, and we then proceeded upstairs to the dining area. The room had a very hip/trendy vibe. We were seated in one of the banquettes toward the back of the room - and the large dining area looked to me to contain a mix of 70% tables/30% banquets.

When our party of 4 was seated, the waiter presented us with drink menus (but no food menu?). We asked for the food menu and he promptly brought them for the table. I ordered the "Jewish Italian Wedding Soup", which I loved. It is initially presented sans broth as 4 chicken meatballs on a bed of vegetables and once it is placed in front of you, another waiter comes along with a teapot of broth and proceeds to pour it. The meatballs (and broth) were delicious, with a delightful lemon "kick". The rest of the table ordered the Israeli Couscous Risotto to share - I had a few bites and definitely enjoyed it (as did the rest of the table).

For the main course I and another person at the table ordered the Orange Glazed Duck Breast and Duck Confit - the duck breast was served sliced and I found it to be good (though a little chewy). The confit was not what I expected in terms of presentation (bits of duck sprinkled amongst some vegetables - but it was very flavorful and delicious). As an FYI - the portion sizes are not tremendous, but are reasonably sized. My girlfriend had the lamb burger which was served on foccaccia bread. Although she "ate around the bread" - she definitely enjoyed the burger (particularly the accompanying spicy chipotle sauce). She did share a few bites of the burger with me, but it was lost on me, as I do not enjoy lamb. The other person in our party ordered the Arctic Char - when I initially advised against doing so (as I don't believe Sunday is a good day to order fish at a Kosher restaurant) he checked with our waiter who found out from the chef that the fish was fresh. I am highly allergic to fish so will have to take his word, but he definitely enjoyed his meal.

My only suggestions for the menu 1) the menu selection seemed rather limited, so would encourage offering more menu items and 2) given that restaurant is in opening stages and that management wants to differentiate themselves from other kosher restaurants, why not offer a sampling plate that allows diners to sample all menu items?

As I noted above, since portions sizes were definitely not the overstuffed/2nd Ave deli variety, we definitely had room for dessert. As I am a dessert person, I did find the dessert menu to be rather small (choice of chocolate cake/angel's food cake/olive oil cake). However, before we ordered a friend of mine (who is a bit of an "insider" at the restaurant) gave me some good advice - "although you probably want to go for the chocolate cake, go with the olive oil cake" . I'm glad I listened to him, as I found the cake to be delicious (and not something I otherwise would have ordered)

In summary, I found the food to be very good (by both kosher and non-kosher standards), though they probably need to expand the menu selection. Service was generally good (although there were a few very minor hiccups when you could tell that they were in their second week of full service). Restaurant has a cool/downtown vibe - can def take non-kosher guests w/o embarrassment - though some may prefer that the noise/music volume be turned down slightly.

I very much enjoyed my experience and look forward to future visits (hopefully with an expanded menu).

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  1. Sounds great! Can't wait to check it out!

    1. Where in Manhattan is it?

      1. The Times wrote up the bar and the challenges of making kosher cocktails. Moshe/gotchulent, I'm sure you guys have experienced similar challenges.

        http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

        1. We had almost identical experiences! We too had Sunday night reservations, arrived a bit early and went to the lounge, where I ordered a cocktail (I don't remember the name, but it was the first on the menu and had almond milk in it)! When our friends came, we were seated upstairs at a table. Three of us had the Italian Wedding Soup. We all loved it, but no "lemon kick" for me. My husband had the lamb agnoletti...ravioli...which were delicious. Menachem stopped by, apparently recognizing one of our friends from a different event. I ordered the bronzino, which was fantastic...but the slices of potato beneath it were a tad undercooked. My table mates had the chicken (OK), steak (cooked perfectly) and duck (YUM). The chocolate dessert was delicious, but ridiculously rich...I could only eat half. The angel food came with anise meringues, which were odd, and the cake had an odd spongy texture. Only 3 complaints, all service related. They didn't serve the rolls until we asked for them AFTER they had taken away the bread plates, our friend had to ask for ketchup THREE times until it was brought, my place was set with a butter knife instead of a regular knife. I know the bronzino was tender, but really?
          All in all, a terrific experience, would love to go back when they expand the menu...or YES, a tasting menu...but I give it 6 months - 1 year until it goes belly up...

          2 Replies
          1. re: DebbyT

            Fish is supposed to be served with a fish knife, which looks a little like an old fashioned butter knife. Are you sure you didn't have a fish knife?

             
            1. re: DeisCane

              Well, now I feel stupid. It totally looked like a butter knife, and they did NOT give me a fish fork. Same size as everyone else's

          2. Well, we went, and I'm not sure that it lived up to all the hype.

            It's very Soho, the crowd, the decor. Probably the best-looking kosher place in the city. Even Woody Allen looked good in the wall mural where he was cast as Jesus in the Last Supper.

            The service, however, was more willing than able. Perhaps the staff needs training to learn, for example, to bring all of the appetizers or all of the main courses to a party of four simultaneously. And to bring coffee to two of the people who ordered it, but not to the other two. Even when reminded once, twice, until we finally gave up.

            It's very noisy, that's designed in. But it can make it hard to converse.

            But I went for the food, not the design.

            The food was good. Not better than Solo, La Marais, Tevere 84 or Mike's. Not interesting or exciting. Not memorable. Just good.

            We started with the Italian wedding soup (just chicken meatballs in a broth that had lots of umami but was oversalted), a cerviche (fruity, pleasant), a very good beet salad and an outstanding duck rillette.

            The duck in orange sauce, chicken Milanese, lamb burger, and grilled fish were all very good. We split one olive oil cake and one chocolate, and divided each into four (the waiter provided four plates and forks without having to be asked) opinions on both were mixed. I didn't finish my little quarter-piece of either, although I have a notorious sweet tooth.

            If I had just walked in, I would have said that it was a very good diner, and it was. But after all that hype...

            6 Replies
            1. re: AdinaA

              What hype? All I saw was a bunch of chowhounders going on about mevushal / non-mevushal, why they named it Jezebel, the Kashrus of live music and how long it would last. I wasn't blown away by the food either, but any hype started on these pages.

              1. re: psycomp

                There's been a lot of hype in the press, which is unusual for a kosher restaurant. Their PR people have done a good job.

                1. re: GilaB

                  Respectfully, hype and press aren't the same thing.

                  1. re: psycomp

                    There really has been a lot, the times, the Daily News, this headline in New York Magazine "First Look at Jezebel, Bringing Glam Kosher to Soho" Here's the opening "Elegant Kosher restaurant Jezebel is the latest entry into the Jewish-food trend that now includes Kutsher's, La Vara, Jack's Wife Freda, and others. Cafe Boulud alum and former Food & Wine Best New Chef Bradford Thompson is behind the stove — last night he whipped up a Kosher menu that included lamb agnoletti, arctic char, and filet of beef for two (an abbreviated version of the final lineup) for such luminaries as Russell Simmons (who led a prayer with Rabbi Marc Schneier) and Princess Sharis of Abu Dhabi, who attended..."

                    That's hype.

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      Too much hype can get you into trouble as well, even when YOU DO have the food to back it up;-) Food critics generally wait at least 3 months before giving their say on a new joint...the jury should be out on this one, still want to to go.

                      *written by a chef/caterer...absolutely no connection to JEZEBEL or staff...trying not to upset the CH mods.*

                      1. re: gotcholent

                        That's true. A new kitchen can take a while to settle in. And the staff certainly needs additional training.

                        But I'm not a food critic. Just someone who enjoys food.