From March 2012
I fell in love with ‘Jewish food’ when I was 14 and I started working at my local Jewish deli. So I was delighted when my restaurateur crush, Russell Norman (owner of Spuntino, Polpo, Polpetto, and Da Polpo) announced that he was opening a ‘sort of’ Jewish restaurant in Covent Garden. He’s described it as “a sort of sexy, fun version of a Jewish deli…with cocktails”. It may have a Jewish theme to it but its menu is distinctly non-kosher.
As you walk into Mishkins, you can immediately tell its got Norman written all over it. It has the tell-tale rectangular bar with low lamps hanging over it, brick walls, tiled floor, and achingly cool staff.
Mishkin’s has more of an American diner feel to it with red leather booths to the left. The laminated menu looks like an old-fashioned diner menu and its full of delights…salt beef w English mustard & pickles, salmon & cream cheese bagels, three different types of meatballs (lamb & pistachio, ground beef & freen peppercorn and chickpea, spinach & ricotta), mac & cheese, cod cheek popcorn, crispy lamb belly…its so hard to pick what to have.
One of my favourite eating companions, the very gorgeous Cassie, was with me and she had been saving herself for our dinner so that she could stuff her face. (I’m not friends with people who don’t like to stuff their face!)
We both wanted to try the matzo ball soup, the pastrami on rye, the burger and the meatballs but then we decided it might be a bit meat-heavy so we ditched the meatballs for the next visit.
The first to arrive was the matzo ball soup…
The minute we tasted it, Cassie and I looked at each other with wide eyes and started laughing…it tasted so good, like a warm hug. You can understand why its called ‘Jewish penicillin’…a bowl of this could cure almost anything!
The flavours were hearty and rich, there was plenty of chicken, carrot and celery and the matzo ball was fluffy, light and herby. This tasted as good as my mum’s chicken soup, which is a huge compliment. In my eyes, my mum makes the best chicken soup in the world. If I worked near Covent Garden, I would be in here every lunchtime eating this soup.
Next we got our Reuben on Rye with Pastrami, Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing & Swiss Cheese.
It was huge! Thank goodness we ordered one to share as I would never be able to eat a whole one myself. In short, this is a great sandwich. I love a sandwich you have to hold with both hands. You get a great hearty, meaty, cheesy bite each time. The crispy rye is stuffed with thinly sliced pastrami, sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese and its bloody delicious.
But then came the burger…
It is a 3oz steamed beef pattie with onions & swiss cheese. You can supersize this if you want but we went for the regular size one which is the size of a slider, much like those you get at Spuntino.
Wow, this is an amazing burger. I was reluctant to try it at first because I didn’t think you could get a better burger than those at Lucky Chip, but this stood up to the best burger Lucky Chip could offer. It was so delicious! We asked the waitress what the special secret is and apparently the beef pattie is steamed over a bed of onions and the bun on top. This infuses the beef with the flavour of the onions and keeps it so juicy and moist and not greasy at all. With the cheese and the soft bun, I couldn’t fault this at all. In fact, it almost put me off the Rueben which I was eating at the same time. Well, until I went back to the Rueben… I wanted to order another one but Cassie rightly suggested we finish everything else then see if we were still hungry.
We also ordered a side of onion rings and proper home-made chips, both lovely, and the cauliflower & caraway slaw, also really tasty. Very fresh tasting.
We were really full after we’d finished it all and whilst I was still tempted to order another burger, we decided to go for something sweet so we could try more of the menu. Cassie had been dreaming about Nancy Newman’s soggy lemon drizzle cake all day. She’d even texted me that morning to tell me she was saving her calories for it.
This was beautiful…tart but sweet, so soft but dense. It really was a perfect way to finish off the meal.
I went for the warm chocolate chip cookie and ice cream. This is pretty much what it says on the tin. The ice cream was a really good quality vanilla chocolate and the cookie was warm, sweet and soft.
I can’t end this review without mentioning the gin cocktails. I’m a big fan of gin and these cocktails were delicious. I started off the the Gimlet – Plymouth gin with Rose’s line juice. This packs quite a punch. It’s very sharp.
Next I ordered the Hendrick’s gin, elderflower, greengage jam & prosecco cocktail. I can’t remember the name of this. I had 2 or 3 of them. Again, I can’t remember! But I do remember that it was lovely and I wanted more, but I had a breakfast meeting the next morning and I knew I couldn’t be hungover for it. Boo.
I can’t recommend Mishkin’s highly enough. The staff were really upbeat (but not in an annoying way), friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. The atmosphere is loud, buzzy, easy going and fun, the food is great, the cocktails are fantastic. Russell Norman has done really well with Mishkin’s. I feel like he gets better with each new restaurant he opens. His attention to detail is faultless.
If I worked in Covent Garden it would be dangerous. I’d be in there most lunchtimes for matzo ball soup and burgers and back again after work for cocktails. Mind you, writing that last sentence, it sounds like heaven! I will definitely be back as I’d like to try out the meatballs, the cod cheek popcorn, the hot dog and their malted milkshakes, and of course, work my way through the gin menu.
Mishkin’s, 25 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JS
Tel: 020 7240 2078