A New Twist to Pastrami on Rye @ Kutsher’s

A few weekends ago – at the suggestion of my little sister – I tried a new brunch spot in TriBeCa that brings a new twist to traditional Jewish eats. We all know the classics – Pastrami on Rye, Latkas, Matzo Brei and Lox – but Kutsher’s gives these classics some modern flare in a comfortable and casual setting. The restaurant is new to TriBeCa’s trendy restaurant scene, and while Kutsher’s attempts to fit in with the likes of Locanda VerdeMarc ForgioneTamarind or Nobu it does not really run at the same speed. This is the type of place you stop into when you need a break from the hustle, are craving some comfort food or need a place that’s family friendly and welcomes all ages.

I cannot remember the last time I was in a New York City restaurant with so many small children. When did TriBeCa become prime destination for families? I always thought it was just the hip place for singles and young couples. Who knew! Well, if you live in the neighborhood and have trouble finding restaurants that will welcome your strollers and a table full of toddlers, no need to look any further. Kutsher’s Sunday brunch scene was a diverse mix of such tables, as well as those filled with adults catching up with their friends and then there were the groups of twenty-somethings in desperate need of a mimosa post-Saturday night. I felt like I was somewhere in between – scoping out a relatively new restaurant while catching up with a good friend over casual brunch. The restaurant gets a little noisy with all the kids, but at least it’s lively and has a buzz to it.

Choosing what to eat was a challenge. It took the waiter a couple trips over to the table before I decided whether to go down the path of sweet or savory. The Smoked Fish Platter seemed wildly appropriate, but the Challah French Toast with fresh berries and whipped cream was also enticing. Since my taste buds were feeling quite indecisive that afternoon, I ended up making my decision based on what looked to be the best mix of sweet and savory – Matzo Brei. As I was told when I ordered it: “This is not the same kind of Matzo Brei mom used to make.” I will agree with that statement. This version is served with a “brick” of softened matzo topped with scrambled eggs and a sweet berry compote to drizzle over the top. While it would have been a little bland without the berry compote – and typically I enjoy a little maple syrup drizzle on my brei – this was one way in which Kutsher’s gets creative with what is typically a very simply prepared, traditional Jewish dish. My friend strayed away from the breakfast eats and went straight for the Pastrami on Rye. This one looked – and she said tasted – pretty authentic. The restaurant house-cures the pastrami and is not skimpy with the portions. The sandwich is sizable so bring a hearty appetite. Lastly, the pickles.  I am a huge fan of pickles and I do not much discriminate between sweet or sour – they just need to 1) taste fresh and 2) not look as though they have been sitting in a jar of pickled juice for months on end. I saw a plate of pickles at the table next to us, and even though I knew they would not be the best complement my eggs and matzo I felt inclined to test them out. The pickles were pretty darn good. It was clear they were pickled by the chefs at Kutsher’s and I was pleasantly surprised by the freshness in taste. We skipped out on dessert – which I rarely do – but don’t things such as Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding and Black and White Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich sound intriguing? Maybe next time!

Overall, I think this newcomer is worth a shot. There were plenty of other menu selections enticing enough to make me go back at some point and give them a whirl. It’s always refreshing to find a new place that thinks outside the box and creates a fresh concept. There are plenty of delis around New York City to grab a Pastrami on Rye but at Kutsher’s you will not just be met with a hearty sandwich, but also ambiance and character. The restaurant may be loud and have a lot of kids running around, but at least it welcomes the whole family (and I mean family in a very broad sense of the word) which I do not think can be said for many other “hip” New York City up-and comers.

Kutsher’s, 186 Franklin Street, NY, NY 10013. Phone: (212) 431-0606

When to Book: Kutsher’s accepts reservations on OpenTable. You can typically find availability or just walk in.

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