Kosher dining has taken many steps forward over the years. In the beginning, even having a place to eat outside of your kosher kitchen was an accomplishment. After that, the proliferation of delis and bagel places cemented the idea of Jewish food in the American palate. Then we discovered pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza?
From there, first Israeli restaurants began to appear, followed by Chinese food (well, our version of it anyway). Then came the first steakhouses and a variety of ethnic cuisine (we can’t live without our sushi). The most recent level is that restaurants are adding real atmosphere and higher end places are moving closer to their non-kosher counterparts.
And yet, if you sit down and look at the menu, kosher restaurants are still quite familiar. That is, until you sit on REN.
As the waiter explains the menu (don’t worry, it’s not long), you’ll notice that you probably don’t recognize most of it. At the very least, you’ve probably never had anything like most of the options before. But unlike many other kosher restaurants, this isn’t a situation where the chef is applying new techniques to dishes you’ve eaten at other places. It is also not a matter of a chef making something kosher that has never been made kosher before.
At REN, Chef Ronan Mourad has created an experience where he has invented many of the dishes himself. Hailing from several Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Italy, Morad also worked at some of the best establishments in his native Israel, including the rooftop at the Mamilla Hotel.
REN’s menu is a feat that many kosher diners will not be able to appreciate. But the same would be true for non-kosher patrons as well. The difference is that people who don’t keep kosher have had the opportunity to go to restaurants like REN for a long time and most choose not to do so. For the kosher consumer, REN is the first gateway to other types of food. While there may generally be a large rush to try the latest thing, potential guests should be aware that not everything is for everyone.
When I was invited to REN and faced with the menu, it was difficult to choose what to start with. If it’s a true chef invention you’re looking for, try Yafa Kalavana. These are kohlrabi dumplings filled with almond cheese and pistachios, topped with white winter truffle and fennel seeds, and served with smoked kohlrabi cuts drizzled with chive infused oil. Using the kohlrabi as both wrapper and sauce is brilliant and the filling, made with some of the best imitation cheese I’ve ever had, combined with the light crunch of pistachios, establishes a perfect texture.
There is another appetizer known as tomato. The main plate includes a multicolored tomato and strawberry salad served over a tomato consommé gelé. The dressing is made of herbs, peppers, pickled lemon, basil-infused vinegar and fish sauce. It comes with a cigar filled with dried tomatoes, Tabasco, yuzu and crispy rice and sprinkled with cherry tomato powder on the outside. Last but not least is a clear tomato iced tea which is extremely potent and takes three days to achieve. The salad is light and has a good balance of acid and sweetness and the cigar is crisp and spicy and pairs well with the tea. To eat something like this, you go to REN.
Lamb Bolognese Raviolo is much simpler, yet just as delicious. Large chunks of pasta sit in a stock made from morel mushrooms, while a few whole specimens of the exotic fungus also feature in the bowl. On the inside, lamb is mixed with celery cream to mimic the dairy/meat combination that is forbidden in the Torah. As someone who loves mushrooms, tasting this use of the famous strain that grows mostly on scorched earth was really something. The depth of flavor in the stock, as well as the texture of the mushrooms, made this dish worth it.
Beef tataki can be found on menus throughout the kosher world, but the REN version is exceptional. Thin slices of beef are wrapped around a mound of tomatoes, onions and parsley. This plate is heaven for those who love different textures. It’s topped with not only garlic chips and pita crunch, but also a dried piece of raw black tapioca plant. Get everything in one scoop for a truly balanced meal. The beef is perfectly cooked on the outside and is extra flavorful due to having been marinated in oil, thyme and rosemary for 45 hours beforehand.
There may be fewer entrees, but they still feature some real care and craft. Aged Duck Long Island is skin-on duck breast pieces served with apples and pickled mustard seeds and whole baby bok choy. While almost all the ducks used in the restaurant are frozen (as suppliers only work with them twice per year), REN has its own supplier which allows them to age the fresh meat after receiving it. Between the aging process and not removing the skin, the texture and flavor make this the best duck ever. The apples and bok choy are a great pairing for sweetness and crunch, even if the duck is the real star of the show.
If duck isn’t your favorite, try rack of lamb. Using sous vide makes the lamb taste a little less sticky than other methods, and each piece also develops a wonderful mouthfeel that you’ll enjoy while tasting the oyster mushroom reduction that serves as a kind of gravy. Comes in. A unique addition to the plate is some multicolored carrots. In fact, the orange ones are carrots while the more yellow ones are actually carrot fennel puree delicately laid out in the shape of a carrot. This is a great example of a chef using the plate as a canvas and a way to surprise and delight the eater with food.
REN is an amazing experience, a beautiful atmosphere, and unlike anything seen before in the world of kosher restaurants. If this sounds like something you need to see and taste for yourself, make your way there. If not, that’s okay too. There are lots of other places. One of the luxuries of kosher restaurants today is that there are options available.
REN may be the only option in its category. But maybe that’s just because it’s the first.
REN is located at 1471 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. It is Kosher-certified by Chizuk Hadas Kasharas – Rav Dovid Gornish.
The Ren is open Sunday-Thursday 5pm to 10:30pm.
[Restaurant Advice: For Kosher consumers who love to eat, there’s currently one credit card that stands out as a must to have in your wallet: the American Express Gold Card. We use this card to earn 4x points at kosher restaurants worldwide, as well as supermarkets, takeout, and delivery, inclusive of UberEats and similar apps. Sign up here for the American Express Gold Card.]
Affiliate Disclosure: YeahThatsKosher is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
#Kosher #Review #REN #Restaurant #Brooklyn #Hautschosher
Image Source : yeahthatskosher.com