[again, please be prepared for some truly shocking images, courtesy of my slowly dying HTC Desire because we couldn’t figure out the shutter length on Will’s camera]
Oy. I’m currently pitched up in a mate’s boyfriend’s spare room while I wait for my (shiny) new flat to become a) officially mine and b) ready. I’m therefore currently in gastronomic limbo, with all the katsuobushi and sherry vinegars sitting in boxes and unwilling to get unpacked into a scary new kitchen before they have to get repacked again in about two weeks. The only feasible solution is to therefore eat out all the bloody time. Oh boo hoo.
So Mishkin’s it is. First of all, utter joy at discovering that this a new’n’trendy restaurant that you can actually book. Oh yes, you can leave your home knowing that you might get something to eat within the next three hours – these days, this is rare enough to be an actual selling point.
Firstly, I need to confess that I’m absolutely no expert whatsoever on the pantheon of Jewish food. My first brush with it was my friend and university flatmate Ilana’s chicken and matzoh ball soup, lovingly made in a dodgy pressure cooker and the answer to all ills. But neither she nor her mum Betsy will willingly part with their secrets – or rather, they’ll deliberately give you false recipes. Anyway, deceit and sniffly noses aside, Jewish food is all kinds of new and exciting – and a welcome addition to mainstream London eating. However, more than a little bizarre that Mishkin’s is non-kosher, as if it knows that the crowd it entertains is exactly like me – about as goyim as they get.
Table acquired (still, hooray!), the gin-based cocktail list was short but perfectly formed – couple of gin sours did us well. So, to the business of order a smorgasbord to share – which when one of them is matzoh ball soup, is bloody difficult. Unfortunately the soup was a little disappointing – the matzoh balls wanted to be gutsier and the vegetables a lot softer.
However, if there’s one thing that Russell Normans restaurants seem to get bang-on every time, it’s the fried – in this case, some exemplary onion rings and cod cheek popcorn. The latter may inspire a series of ‘what can we make popcorn out of?’ tomfoolery.
The salt beef sandwiches were less door stops and more draught excluders, eventually defeating me. They benefited from a little extra mustard, but the shredded texture and flavour was all there (although you have to order it with the fat, or what’s the point?). We also really enjoyed the pickled herring and beet tartare – although the capers in the latter were elusive, they were amazing when you actually got to them.
The meatballs – lamb and pistachio – were disappointing compared to the ones I’ve had at da Polpo in the past. There weren’t any standout flavours and the sauce tasted like not much more than passata.
So we might have ordered rather a lot. In fact, the waiting staff seemed pretty impressed with our Herculean efforts. However, an attempt at the dessert menu eluded us and we trotted off to hang out with drag queens at nearby Cellardoor feeling really rather stuffed.
All in all, a good meal with some great points but also a couple of slips-ups. I’d go back, but if I could book at Polpo, it might be another story.
25 St Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS
£35 pp. with drinks