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Ever wondered where you could get the most authentic gefilte fish? Or load up on manischewitz? Jezebel is probably not the place for you. Though the restaurant, opening next week in a two-story 1887 townhouse across the street from the Soho Grand Hotel (646-410-0717; jezebelsoho.com), is fully kosher, its owners, Henry Stimler and Menachem Senderowicz, hope it will become a dining destination independent of any such labels.
“We’re not looking to be a Jewish restaurant at all. Obviously, we have a built-in clientele with a tremendous hunger for something like this, but we want this to be open to everybody,” explains Stimler, the “British” in the British & Yiddish Hospitality Group that he and Senderowicz founded as a parent company for Jezebel (both men, childhood friends, keep kosher themselves).
True, little about the boite smacks of the less atmospheric establishments scattered throughout the city (though as Senderowicz points out, there’s not a kosher place to be found between Wall Street and 34th Street). Jezebel’s lower level features all black leather banquettes, gold walls and ram horn light fixtures (a cheeky nod to religious symbolism). The walls are lined with portraits of famous Jewish celebrities super-imposed onto classic works (Natalie Portman as Elizabeth II, Jon Stewart as Napoleon, Mayor Bloomberg as George Washington), while a grand tableau of the Last Supper by Jacob Zurilla has the likes of Woody Allen, Jack Black, Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson as guests.
The comparatively pristine upstairs dining room offers American cuisine with a touch of Judaic tradition: roasted bone marrow with parsley, pickled onion and toasted breadcrumbs; Jewish Italian Wedding Soup. Drinks, in keeping with dietary rules, include a full range of kosher wines and seasonal cocktails.
The dining room
As for the name Jezebel, the duo insists it was not a Biblical reference, however convenient that might have been.
“We were inspired by the Betty Davis movie,” explains Senderowicz. “She was the only one wearing a red dress, while everyone else was in white. And she stood out. That’s something we relate to very much.”
Photos: Chana Blumes