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SJ Super 7

by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-02-18

Times Square

Times Square

The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish New York, including: kosher buffalo steak, Jewtopia – the best new Jewish play, klezmer rockers Golem and where to buy the best bagels and knishes.

1. Le Marais: if you have a fetish for flesh, it doesn’t come any better than this French-style steakhouse. Not only can you get standard fare, including steak and chicken, but the menu also offers such delights as buffalo. Service is swift and friendly (they even clear the crumbs from your table as you go along), and if you still have room after you’ve finished your steak, the non-dairy desserts are truly special. There’s also a posh butcher on site, serving the finest in raw meats for cooking at home. Visit Le Marais for more information.

2. Jewtopia: This import from Los Angeles transfers well to New York. It tells the story of two old schoolfriends – one Jewish, one not, who both have the same ambition in life – to meet the perfect Jewish girl. Trouble is, the non-Jewish guy is more adept at it than his Jewish friend, so they hatch a plot to help the Jewish guy meet his soulmate. Every Jewish stereotype is here, from the irritating parents and doddery grandfather through to medallion man at the Jewish singles event. And we love that. Bryan Fogel and Sam Woolfson, who wrote the play and take the two lead roles, have created a real gem and redefined Jewish comedy for the 21st Century. Well done lads. Can’t wait for the London production.  Website: www.jewtopiaplay.com/

3. Golem really rocks: Klezmer rockers Golem are at the top of the new wave of Jewish music. Regulars on the New York club scene, the band recently played to a delighted audience at the Lower East Side’s Rothko club. In just under an hour they romped through a whole of batch of energetic numbers from their albums Libeshmertzn and Homesick Songs. Founder and frontwoman Annette Ezekiel is aptly supported by a motley crew of Jews and goyim who perfect a great sound. Catch them if you can – find out when they’re next playing at: www.golemrocks.com

4. Breakfast specials: you can’t do New York without munching on a bagel or two, with some coffee on the side. And the best value is the upper West Side’s famous Zabars, whose café offers a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel with coffee and orange juice for a recession-busting $4.95. You can’t choose the variety of bagel you get as it’s only a plain bagel included in the offer but for that price, who’s complaining? Other bagel delights include a street vendor near Madison Square Garden, who offered two bagels with cream cheese, two coffees and a donut for a mega-amazing four dollars. Not bad going. Europa Café, meanwhile (there are branches all over Manhattan) will serve you a warm bagel with cinnamon and raisin flavoured cream cheese and a coffee for a mere two dollars. And let’s not forget H&H for bagel purists seeking kosher supervision. Prices have increased in recent years to 90 centrs a bagel (any type) and they still do a baker’s dozen – 13 bagels for the price of 12.

5 The knish: big, round, fluffy and full of potato (or spinach or kasha depending on your preference), the knish is a New York staple. Some of the best places to buy them include: Ben’s kosher deli off 7th Avenue (a few blocks from Macy’s towards Times Square) who serve up giant knishes and Mendy’s at Grand Central Station (whose knishes are slightly orange in colour but totally tasty) The question is: why has the knish never been really exported beyond the five boroughs?

6. Old Navy: every Jewish home should have at least one item of Old Navy clothing. Contemporary clothing that is functional, fun to wear and affordable doesn’t come any better than this Gap-owned offshoot. There’s always a deal going on at Old Navy, and with three branches in Central Manhattan alone, including one near Macy’s on Herald Square, you’re bound to find something you like. Even the full-priced merchandise is good value here, but the real deals are to be found on the sale bargains. The Herald Square branch, for example, has an entire floor devoted to reduced price merchandise. That, combined with ‘buy two or more items and save money’ deals makes this place hard to beat. And if you’ve got children, the kids’ department is a must – while larger ladies and expectant mothers are also catered for. Like the knish, we want Old Navy in the UK.

7. Kosher Deluxe: this newly opened restaurant on 46th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue) is a must-visit for any food connoisseur. It may be fast food style but with its huge menu, ranging from Chinese to Israeli as well as burgers and deli, you’re bound to find something you like. Sure, it’s not posh, there’s no waiter service and they don’t wear designer outfits, but it quick, cheap and delicious, with the customary huge portions served by the South East Asian staff (one portion of Chinese-style sesame chicken, for example, was enough for three people, while the burgers are flame-grilled and very tasty). The shwarma and homous, served in a separate area, was as good as any in London, while the chicken soup not only came with a huge matzo ball but also noodles, big chunks of chicken and croutons, and tasted really fresh. More info at:  www.kosherdeluxe.com