Their latkes were “beyond belief”, their chips “to die for” and their chicken soup “outstanding”. Special commendation was also reserved for the salt beef, which according to the late Michael Winner, Sunday Times food critic, was “even better than at Selfridges” when he visited in 2007. Praise indeed.
But this week, the usual tantalising aroma of heimische food emanating from Reubens restaurant in Baker Street ceased for good, as the historic establishment closed its doors after 46 years in business.
Taking to social media, the family, which has run the restaurant for more than 37 years, said it was “unexpectedly” closing owing to a family bereavement and signed off simply: “Thank you for your custom and good memories we have all shared!”
Scores of saddened customers soon expressed their condolences and lamented the closure of Reubens – the last kosher restaurant operating in the West End.
One called it “a real institution”, while another simply lamented: “Where are we going to get a decent salt beef sandwich now?”
First opening in 1973, Reubens quickly earned a place in the hearts of the kosher-eating public by serving up mouth-watering dishes infused with tradition.
The menu included all kinds of fayre, from succulent, slow-steamed salt beef sandwiches on rye, dressed with authentic pickles and mustard, to perfect mounds of chopped chicken and calves’ liver, fried and boiled gefilte fish, glistening golden chicken soup and comforting lockshen pudding.
But East End favourites aside, patrons of this London eaterie will also fondly remember the succulent chicken schwarma and schnitzel, sizzling rib-eye steaks or beef Wellingtons oozing with mushrooms and gravy.
My husband brought me salt beef sandwiches after the birth of our first child at St Georges hospital when it was near Marble Arch nearly 44 years ago. They kept me going. So sad it’s closing. Ruth Dickson
Carole Chesterman has particularly fond memories of Reubens – the restaurant was the brainchild of her late husband, John, and was originally sited
a stone’s throw away from its current position in George Street.
“We thought a kosher restaurant in the West End was needed and, from the beginning, it was very popular,” reflects Carole.
“I went there very often myself – the chicken soup and salt beef were amazing and the portions were always good. It was just a lovely place to go.”
Winner called the food “close to historic” in his review. Now we can also add “fondly remembered” as the last of the ‘old school’ restaurants enjoyed by generations bids farewell.