Think Kosher restaurant, late night, Midtown Manhattan. At a long table by the wall, six casually-dressed older gentlemen are nosily debating the weekend football while sharing a generous meze selection. Further along, a group of 15 –some of whom appear to be related – are all talking at once, while directing a waiter carrying dishes to the right recipient.
As more people arrive, greetings are exchanged across tables and then the owner appears with a lit chanukiah. Everybody smiles. Welcome to Monday night at the Aviv in Edgware, an eaterie that has all the bustle and balagan of a Big Apple eaterie – and serves up stateside portions to match.
It takes years to create and master this kind of relaxed chaos and delicious food but, after 30 years on its current site, everything comes naturally.
Although they grew up to the sound of clattering plates and bubbling soup at the Aviv, brothers Daniel and Adam Urinov did not believe entering the world of dining was a foregone conclusion.
Yet here they stand as the proud proprietors of the Met Su Yan Chinese restaurant in Edgware and new co-owners with Ben Teacher of One Ashbourne in Temple Fortune.
The latter promises the kind of upscale dining experience one might have at Rules if it were kosher, while Met Su Yan has swapped its sushi menu for an authentic dim sum menu with steamed bao buns. Daniel is most enthusiastic about the switch in food direction, but hides his expertise until brother Adam calls to check cooking instructions for the duck. Not that Daniel needs to be in the kitchen at all, as he relies on the head chefs throughout the group.
The latest additions are Hock Lee, formerly of Min Jiang at the Royal Garden at Met Su Yan Edgware, and Stavros Papadakos, joining from the Hakkasan Group, at One Ashbourne.
“We aim to recruit driven, capable head chefs who are up to date with the higher end of the wider market.”
Daniel, who has watched the Orthodox community grow, sees the potential for more high quality kosher restaurants. “Kosher diners, reflecting the general market, are eating out more often. They are also, in part due to the popularity of foodie social media content, more aware of what’s widely available.”
Dry-aged beef Rib-eyes, available at Aviv and One Ashbourne, and the new bao buns and dim sum at Met Su Yan are proving especially popular. All three restaurants are available for private exclusive hire, and for smaller group bookings.
“We regularly host weddings, bar and batmitzvahs, sheva brachot and other celebrations. Shabbat events, both on Friday night and Shabbat lunch, have become increasingly popular.”
“We age our own beef here,” adds Daniel, who recommends the Rib-eye every time, and my husband was tempted, but settled on the mixed grill that didn’t disappoint. “There’s always next Monday,” he said hopefully, but I think we’ll have to book.