« Culinary sins | Main | The Dashwood **** »

12 October 2005

Zvika New York Deli **



Kosher restaurants are few and far between in London, especially in the West End.  So when Zvika opened just off Oxford Street, earlier this year, there was palpable excitement amongst those of us who crave after a bit of kosher meat during the work day.

Those restaurants that do exist, such as Six-13 or Bevis Marks tend to be smart sit-down affairs.  I believe that only Reuben's on a pretty inaccessible stretch of Baker Street does take-away and is in town.  Like Reuben's, Zvika New York Deli (why the New York, it's in London? duh) goes strong on the salt beef and latkes tradition of heimeshe food.  This is traditionally the kind of stuff that was great for building up the fat when you were tilling the land and freezing your arse off in a field somewhere outside Lvov.  It's not so good if you're stuck behind a desk all day, but you are still building up the fat.  Nonetheless, there is a place for this food and if I'm honest, I love the idea.  Unfortunately, the execution rarely lives up to expectations.  Zvika is no exception.

First, its location is odd.  It is as I've said, just off Oxford Street - in theory fine, especially as it's the Soho side, near Tottenham Court Road.  However, by some impressive miracle, the owners (Zvika I am guessing is one of them) have chosen the one street in Soho with minimal passing traffic.  Nonetheless, they've got a corner site, which I'm told is always a good thing - although I've no idea why that's the case. 

On the ground floor is the take-away.  As you walk in there's a large glass refrigerated display case, behind which are a number of grills, microwaves and other similar accoutrements.  It was slightly odd to see that half of this display case was entirely empty, whereas the other half was crammed with metal tubs of salads, hoummous and the like.  I decided to try out the restaurant up-stairs as opposed to the uncomfortable looking window bar on the ground floor. There is also seating downstairs.

A winding narrow flight of stairs, opens onto a brightish room which is snug to say the least - although gives the pleasing impression of being hidden away and far from the madding crowd of Soho.  A plate of coleslaw was presented.  As an amuse bouche, I suppose.  It was fine, nothing special and could have done with some pitta, but given that it lacked onion and was nice and peppery, I was happy to finish it off.  I ordered some babaganoush and pitta to start followed by the salt beef sandwich and the Jewish Stella - Diet Coke.

The babaganoush I am convinced was not babaganoush.  It looked and tasted more like aubergine in tomato sauce.  It was nice, again it won't blow you away, but it wasn't what I ordered.  I didn't kick up a fuss because I couldn't be bothered and I noticed some of the difficulties my fellow diners had in getting the waitresses to understand them.  The waitresses were very sweet but simply couldn't understand the punters - I got slightly concerned when one of the familiar looking chaps behind me was trying to enquire whether any of the bread had sesame seeds in it, as he had a deathly allergy.  Having left my adrenaline pen at home yesterday, I decided not to hang around too long to see if she really understood what he was saying.

Anyway, after the baba/aubergine disappeared, the sandwich soon arrived.  It wasn't too bad, it was moist and there was a decent amount of meat piled between the soggy rye.  Although, I reckon that if a 2nd Avenue refugee was given this sandwich they'd pass out with hunger or storm out in indignation at the paltry quantity.  This was not New York deli quantities, although for that matter, we don't want New York deli waistlines.  The potato salad it was served with, tasted of mayo and nothing else, and the new green cucumber was slightly shrivelled.  The best I can say is that it was okay.

I decided not to stick around for dessert, the mellifluous tones of Frank Sinatra and the heavy food meant I was dozing and the last thing I needed was a depth-charge for dessert.  I did have a lemon tea, which although seemingly impossible to get wrong tasted odd.  Somehow, despite both tea bag and lemon slices being present, it tasted of neither.

I hope Zvika does well but I fear it won't.  The quality just isn't that good and there seem to be quite a few mistakes.  With the exception of the two ladies sitting opposite me, who were bandying around ideas for a new TV food programme, something about the viewers reviewing restaurants, I heard several of the other tables complaining that what they ordered had not arrived, or the menu didn't tally with the plate.   If, however, they can raise the quality and get things right, then hopefully it will still be around in six months time and continue to cater to those shtetl cravings.

Zvika New York Deli, 8 Great Chapel Street, London, W1F 8FG, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7434 2733

Google Maps
Google Earth (download)

What others think
So far, they're keeping quiet


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Zvika New York Deli **:


If for any reason I edit a comment, I explicitly say so. I only edit comments if they are rude, abusive etc. I reserve the right to delete comments if I think they're unduly offensive or constitute spam.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I live in the US and am traveling to London. I plan to go to Zvika's. I have heard great things about it. I also looked in google and found other reviews that were much different than your account. Who peed in your matzo ball soup?

I'd be interested in you posting about your experience, once you've been there. Having read some of the other reviews on Google, most people appear to be saying how good it is because of the novelty factor. A point I made above. It's the quality I was questioning. I think it could be better. Salt beef, is not tough to do right, especially when it's your signature dish.
Let me know what you think once you've been.

Came back from London and wanted to respond to your request of my visit to Zvika's. I was there last Sunday night. The vegetable soup was amazing. And I loved the salt beef. My wife had a taste of some of the Israeli salads and she enjoyed each of the ones she tasted. If you are a true food critic - and not just a peeved competitor - you should venture another visit.

Delilover, thanks for reporting back. I'm really pleased that you and your wife enjoyed yourselves. I certainly am not a peeved competitor, but neither am I a true food critic. I'm a bloke who enjoys eating and writing about it - and if anybody reads it then that is an honour for me. I have no doubt I'll return to Zvika at some point soon but I won't be rushing back there, the food simply wasn't enticing enough. When I do return I'll let you know how it went. I'd be interested to know where else you ate when you were in London and what you thought of it.

Well, it is not there any more... That was short!

Hillel, you're right it was very short! I posted about it here: http://www.silverbrowonfood.com/silverbrow_on_food/2006/06/ta_ta_zvika.html

The comments to this entry are closed.