Reuben on ryeMore pictures
Mishkins labels itself as ‘a kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails’ – probably a fair explanation as while the menu contains a couple of classic Jewish staples like chopped liver, schnitzels and meatballs it feels absolutely nothing like any Jewish deli that I’ve been to (Gaby’s on Charing Cross Road, anything serving beigels in Brick Lane or further afield Katz Deli in New York). When it opened Twitter was awash with pictures of peoples reubens (and to provide a bit of a spoiler it is a damned good sandwich) but what about everything else on the menu?
So from my little gathering of people I follow on Twitter the things that brought the initial crowds of bloggers was the reuben sandwich – a tower of pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese pressed down and contained as much as possible by two slightly toasted slices of rye bread. The pastrami didn’t quite have the delicious spiced, crisp crust that I would normally look for but forgiving them that the sandwich as a thing was good and while not quite being Katz Deli big it was a lot of food and certainly more than enough to feed my lunchtime hunger. You get the salty and smooth grilled cheese cut through with the pickled cabbage leading to the smoked meat and slightly spiced mayo dressing. That sounds good right?
As good as the sandwich was I didn’t really think it would provide the best review of the place, I also wanted to try some of the other traditional Jewish classics that the menu had to offer (and a couple of puddings). The menu has changed a little bit since I was there and one of what I thought was their big sellers of Matzo chicken soup is no longer on it. I had it on a gloomy September day and the hot soup, boiled meat and veg with it’s solitary dumpling did it’s best to warm my insides. I needed a bit of extra pepper but otherwise it was a good simple soup; though I don’t know how authentic compared to the ‘proper’ Jewish version. Another time I went for the chopped liver and again after adding in a little bit extra seasoning it was a good dish given an extra bit of freshness with the radish. Again it’s fair to say that I’ve no idea what a good chopped liver would taste like but for a layperson it was nothing too special and had me craving for a reuben.
On the day I had the chicken soup I had meat loaf for mains and this dish brought a smile to my face. I either missed mention of the soft egg or it has since been added to the menu but cutting through the meat and into a perfectly runny egg was a very nice surprise (but I guess maybe not so much for people with egg allergies) and added a perfect layer of rich sauce to it’s oven cooked minced meat jacket. My mum on occasion when I was a young’un would cook meatloaf so I guess this connection and the surprise twist is the same experience people who raved over the starters I thought were just OK have. I don’t think you can go far wrong with a schnitzel and thankfully they didn’t – a nice slab of turkey covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried was a good autumn/winter dish and given a little bit of extra juice and sweetness to cut the frying fat with the addition of an apple compote. Very nice.
Puddings are good. Still on the menu the banana’s foster is two sugar coated and cooked bananas topped with a hot toffee sauce and a dollop of quickly melting ice-cream; I also had a now off menu chocolate bread and butter pudding. They’re as good (and simple) as they sound and personally next time I go I’ll avoid a starter to ensure I have the space – both were like receiving a big sugary hug from an invisible honey monster.
The restaurant is of the same group as Polpo and Spuntino and lovingly decorated with red leather booths, a counter so gleaming you can see your reflection from and the odd period piece dotted around the walls. To me the design makes it feel more standard American 30′s diner opposed to being specifically Jewish but it does fit in perfectly with the Covent Garden surroundings. The food is good, the service (when they’re not run off their feet) are nice and chatty and for a small to medium lunch I would say this is a winner. The problem I have with it is that if I wanted to go to a restaurant and went to Mishkins I would be a tad disappointed; there is nothing amazing about the cooking if this isn’t food that you grew up with or if you don’t appreciate a good sandwich. As someone who does appreciate a good sandwich I will be back, though probably just for lunch.Tweet