The Jew And The Carrot

Kutsher's of the Borscht Belt Comes to Manhattan

By Michael Kaminer

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A Jewish-themed Tribeca eatery that riffs on Kutsher’s, the 100-year old Catskills staple, is set to open in late October, according to reports yesterday.

Kutsher’s Tribeca, described by resort-family scion Zach Kutsher as a “modern-Jewish-food-inspired bistro”, will occupy a former bakery space, said the Tribeca Citizen, which also posted a draft of Kutsher’s gargantuan menu. The selection trends as a high-gloss mish-mash of traditional and nouvelle Semitic specialties. Varnishkes come with organic quinoa “kasha”, wild mushroom gravy, and truffle butter. Kugel – made with broccoli, Gruyere, and spinach, thank you very much — will accompany free-range roast chicken.

Among the starters: “knish dumplings,” Reuben sliders, and a very straight-up “Nana’s chicken soup” with “matzo ball, egg noodles, carrots, celery, and dill,” possibly the most reverent offering. And rotating daily house specials will encompass chicken paprikash, Romanian tenderloin, and “Yiddish Shepherd’s Pie,” a concoction of “beer-braised flanken-style short ribs with a potato and spinach kugel crust.” On Sunday nights, according to a press release issued this week by the partners, the restaurant will offer “a special Jewish Chinese Supper” in keeping “with Kutsher’s Country Club tradition”.

A who’s-who of Downtown Jews have teamed up to launch the haute-noshery, including China Grill Management honcho Jeffrey Chodorow, chef Mark Spangenthal, late of the Upper East Side’s Dining Room; and investor Alan Wilzig. Wilzig told the Tribeca Citizen in June he hopes Kutsher’s Tribeca evolves into a hangout for the stroller set, which has colonized Tribeca in recent years. The place “will be what [Kutsher’s Country Club] in Monticello always was: a family place. In an urban vernacular, that translates into a ‘neighborhood place’ as well,” he said.

Wilzig also noted the team “did not want to be constrained in creating a ‘modern Jewish bistro’ by being strictly kosher. There will be a great many items on the menu for all but the most Glatt of kosher guests,” he told the Citizen. “My years of demographic study and insight into all of the UJA-Federation studies ratified what we had assumed to be true with regard to the small percentage of families who are kosher outside the home. It is a very slender percentage.” By contrast, the dining room at the namesake resort, “which has stood in the Catskills since 1907, is completely kosher and supervised by a rabbi,” according to the Village Voice.

Success for modern Jewish cuisine in New York is by no means guaranteed, however; the East Village’s Octavia’s Porch, which touted “global Jewish” menu, closed in May after just six months in business.

Meanwhile, while the soon-to-open Tribeca restaurant bears the Kutsher’s name — and Zach Kutsher as a partner — it appears to have no relationship to the still-active resort. “They’re not connected,” a Kutsher’s Hotel & Country Club operator told the Forward before hanging up.

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