Until recently my experience with Jewish food was being force fed strange soups with balls in by distant New Jersey elderly relatives, and the occasional bagel. These memories, though poignant, have translated into neither grasp nor true appreciation of the cuisine. I hear repeatedly of its wonders, but there’s been a few too many ‘ichs’, ‘achs’ and double-vowels for me to be confident of deciphering the menu and I’ve put it off. But I’ve an adventurous (cum-greedy) spirit, and a rooted fear of missing out (I believe today’s youth coin it ‘FOMO’) and consequently, when the opportunity presented itself to dine at not only the UK’s sole fine dining Jewish restaurant, but one set in the heart of Britain’s oldest synagogue, I happily accepted. 

Restaurant 1701 is modern and bright, at odds with its ancient foundations, and of a cut glass fine ambience. A 7 course tasting menu with accompanying wine flight is offered journeying the Jewish world, and it was with Ukrainian Jewish that my excursion began. 
Picture
Borscht
Picture
Sabich
Picture
Chraime
To start; borscht. Now, we all know borscht, but not like this; piping hot, with a spherified ball of tart balsamic, cutting through iron rich beetroot and followed with a fiery burst of horseradish. It’s probably the first time I’ve enjoyed borscht. ‘Sabich’, a marriage of my twin favourites of aubergine and Japanese, I was always going to love. It came smoky roasted, infused with salty tomes of miso and topped with a slow cooked yolk. Another highlight came in the form of a sous vide fillet of cod with sweet red pepper sauce and Jerusalem artichokes – the fish was cooked perfectly, glistening and silken in the middle. The chefs even managed to make chopped liver look dainty, topped with tiny cubes of mango and honey comb, although I prefer my liver much less cooked to avoid any bitterness. More offally delight arrived in the form of a Jerusalem mixed grill of wonderful sweetbreads, soft gizzards and a hanger steak. A final notable item was a mahlab ice-cream, served as an accompaniment to a well-executed sachertorte. You’re excused for not knowing what mahlab is. It’s the stone inside a cherry. The definition of obscure, but strangely delicious. 
Picture
Chopped liver
Picture
Kreplach
Picture
Jerusalem Mixed Grill
Enhanced by some very interesting wines, including a good selection of Israeli choices, the food was a pleasing blend of traditional recipes and modern techniques. I certainly came away feeling far enriched in my knowledge of Jewish food. Finally I know my chraimes from my kreplachs, my ichs from my schts and I’ll actively seek each of them out to boot.  Sure beats the hell out of Christian food…I’ll take a moist torte with sweet apricot over a communion wafer any day.

And so, whether like me you’re a stranger to the culinary treats of this cuisine or a seasoned Shabbat savant, Restaurant 1701 is one to watch. Or even better, try. 


http://www.restaurant1701.co.uk/
Bevis Marks Synagogue, Bevis Marks, London EC3A 7LH
020 7621 1701

Square Meal
Picture