Let Someone Else Slave | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Let Someone Else Slave

Let Someone Else Slave

Eating Seder Out 

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Is it a sign of the times? A reflection of our ever-busier schedules encroaching on our ability to organize and cook for a Passover seder (or two)? A lack of interest in the tradition of driving oneself crazy cooking and cleaning for an army of guests who will stay late into the night telling the Passover story while munching on matzah? More and more people are choosing to forgo assembling family and friends around their own table, or even joining the local synagogue's community seder, in favor of choosing to go gourmet and have a seder meal nothing like their grandmother's thanks to a growing number of non-kosher restaurants that are running their own seders.

This is not exactly a new trend, in years past now-shuttered New York establishments Telepan and Capsouto Freres offered public seder meals. Telepan's Upper West Side eatery offered a kosher-style brisket dinner while once upon a time Capsouto Freres, a French restaurant in Tribeca, served a dairy Sephardic-style meal whose proceeds benefitted the JDC. 

The current roster of non-kosher restaurant seder options varies. Some of these meals are held at restaurants with no obvious affiliation to Jewish culture making their interest in the holiday surprising, though others, like Miriam and Balaboosta are Israeli-inspired establishments. Some of these restaurant seders are only about the food while others encourage some consideration of the holiday.

Mile End's family seder, for instance, is BYOH (bring your own haggadah or they will lend you some). The Montreal-Jewish-style deli will serve up pickles, charoset, rutabaga tsimis, and brisket, allowing you make the evening as meaningful as you like with your own haggadahs. 

If it's just food you're after, Park Slope's Israeli Miriam Restaurant has a Passover prix fixe ($60) available Monday and Tuesday night with pickled garlic eggplant, carrot, and cabbage salad; lamb shank; horseradish and dill crusted salmon; and panna cotta. 

On Monday and Tuesday night, Rosa Mexicano locations in New York and New Jersey will serve a four-course menu including date, coconut, tangerine, pomegranate, almonds, cinnamon, and rose apples charoset; matzah ball pazole soup; matzah-breaded chicken breast; and roasted brisket wrapped in banana leaf with dried fruit tsimmes; not to mention Herradura, a kosher for Passover tequila to wash it all down. 

Those hosting (or invited to) a first night seder can check out Russ & Daughters Café's second seder, which will be mc'ed by Catie Lazarus, writer and host of Employee of the Month at The Public Theater, and will present a seder menu consisting of brisket and other traditional Passover favorites ($180). 

At Balaboosta in Soho, a cultural mash-up family-style dinner ($100-150) is available on Tuesday night, featuring sabich on matzah made with with quail eggs, Middle Eastern Borscht, Tunisian lamb shoulder, and ice cream from Morgenstern's for dessert.  

James Beard House will have a second-night celebration of Mexican-Jewish heritage ($135-175) in collaboration with the Jewish Food Society with a menu by chefs Pati Jinich, Fany Gerson, and Rafael Zaga. It will feature herring ceviche; gefilte fish a la Veracruzana; matzoh ball soup a la Mexicana; rice–stuffed lamb saddle with tamarind, tomato, and olive sauce, herb salad, and chiles; salted matzah from The Matzo Project; flourless chipotle–chocolate cake for dessert, and wine pairings from Recanati.

Joe & Misses Doe in the East Village is presenting Passover dinners with matzah ball soup, slow-cooked brisket, and cobbler for dessert for not one or two but for three nights ($110). Don't miss their specialty cocktail for the holiday: Elijah's Punch, a blend of rum, Manischewitz wine, apple cider, and lemon. 

Down on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side, Fung Tu has a Passover menu ($55) available throughout the holiday (excluding Friday and Saturday) with Chinese foods representative of symbolic seder plate standbys such as soy marinated egg for the "beitzah," stir-fried bamboo for "maror,"  and sweet and sour lamb ribs for "zeroa." They even have a savory sweet potato lo mein kugel to go with the meal. 

Cafe Boulud has a three-course prix fixe ($45-95) for the week of Passover, with a seder plate, latkes, matzah ball soup, chicken or brisket, and Pavlova for dessert. For those wanting to host at home who don't relish cooking for a crowd, Epicerie Boulud has dinners for six ($325) available throughout Passover for pickup including chicken liver mousse, brisket, hand-made matzah, and tropical fruit cobbler. 

If you're set for the seders but are looking for an LA-inpired Shabbat meal over Passover, check out this spring seder ($90) co-hosted by Arq and OneTable, which will feature a vegetable-forward meal and a Passover storytelling activity. 

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