The Jew And The Carrot

Kutsher's Tribeca Updates Jewish Classics

By Molly Yeh

  • Print
  • Share Share
Molly Yeh
Take a Bite: Kutsher’s house-smoked pastrami

Come November 15, New Yorkers need not pile into the upstate-circa-1950s-bound DeLorean to experience the hospitality and family atmosphere of Kutsher’s Hotel & Country Club — a classic of the Borscht Belt. With the opening date of Kutsher’s Tribeca fast approaching, the buzz is mounting, and it’s grabbing the attention of city dwellers that hold fond memories of vacationing in the Catskills. Though Jewish delis and appetizing shops like Mile End and Shelsky’s, and even the quickly flopped Octavia’s Porch have helped put Jewish food back on the New York foodie map, members of the Borscht Belt golden era seem to bare the most excitement for this new American Jewish bistro.

In a recent talk and tasting event at New York City’s Tenement Museum, former Kutsher’s employees, vacationers and even a few who stayed down the road — at the Concord and Grossinger’s — gathered to learn about the new restaurant and sample the menu. “We’d say, ‘We’re going to the mountains,’ and everyone knew where you were going.” recalled Rosalie Reinhardt, now 83, of the Borscht Belt’s heydays. Another guest at the event, Vivian Gornik, a waitress at Kutsher’s in 1958, spoke of how that era came to a slow in the 1960s when families had enough money to fly to Florida or Puerto Rico, “The last incarnation was when men came to get laid and the women came to get married!” Gornik said with a laugh.

The food that guests remember is nothing far-fetched: bagels, lox, gefilte fish and, as Tenement Museum President Morris Vogel hopes at the new Kutsher’s, blintzes. At the spinoff eatery, classic Jewish cuisine will be brought into the highbrow playing field with new twists and quality local ingredients. Descriptions of wild halibut gefilte fish with a horseradish beet tartar and house-smoked pastrami were met with oohs and aahs from guests at the Tenement event, as did talk of kasha varnishkes with organic quinoa and greenmarket mushrooms. An updated version of the Saturday night rib eye tradition will also hold a spot on the new menu, in the form of a schmaltz rub rib eye for two, accompanied by duck fat fries and mustard greens.

While the size of the new Kutsher’s will decrease to seat 140 from its Catskill counterpart (which fed 1,000 people, three times a day), the quality is certainly set to improve, with the help of chef Mark Spangenthal (formerly of the Upper East Side’s Dining Room). According to one of the main men behind the project, Zach Kutsher, who grew up at the family country club, “The genesis for the food was looking to elevate the cuisine [using] healthier, lighter cooking styles and beautiful presentation.”

Alan Wilzig, a Kutsher’s Tribeca investor and former lifeguard at the original Kutsher’s, said that the most unique part about dining at Kutsher’s was the personal attention that guests received from the wait staff: “The waiters were taught that everyone returned… it was incumbent to the wait staff to remember what people like so that it would be waiting there before you got there.” A variation on this family-friendly atmosphere will manifest itself in a contemporary way through the restaurant. “We wanted to do something authentic and with a retro feel, but sophisticated,” said branding consultant Richard Kirshenbaum, who compared the “Jewish cuisine trend” to the transformation that Italian food in America experienced over the past 25 years.

Though places like Katz’s, the 2nd Avenue Deli and even Florida’s Rascal House and Wolfie’s are staples in the Jew-food world, a deli is not what Kutsher has planned. “We’re carving out new ground. Our design and atmosphere will set us apart,” said Kutsher, who admitted that places like Mile End have indeed helped trail blaze for this moment that Jew food is experiencing. “We fit in [to this moment] by elevating and advancing the cuisine…. We’re not a deli, we’re a Jewish American bistro. Our dishes are works of art.”

To see Kutsher’s full menu, click here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Kutshers, Kutsher's Tribeca, Jewish Catskills, Borscht Belt

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.