Tish is a new grand café in Belsize Park, north London, but kosher. There are not really enough Jews to fill a kosher restaurant in London, and they tend to fall into dust, like the ten tribes, and the temple. 1701, the unwise and subtle restaurant by Bevis Marks synagogue, has gone; Bloom’s in Golders Green has gone, too. Most British Jews aren’t kosher because chicken without butter isn’t worth having, even if you do believe that bushes speak and people want to kill you. Mostly, the food will kill you. But not always.
The north London restaurant most favoured by Jews is Oslo Court, which is actually a specialist in seafood, plus cream cakes. Oh Jews! What do you want — really? Or we go to Fischer’s on Marylebone High Street which, although a pre-war Austrian tribute café without Nazis (and very good too), isn’t kosher either. But it does serve a wondrous Wiener schnitzel.
These are raging times. How many paragraphs should I give it before I call Jeremy Corbyn and his cohort of appalling child zombies anti-Semites? One? Two? Three? 0.5 of a paragraph?
For Jews, threat means, inevitably, renaissance. It is what comes next. Jews know their duty. Most Jews. Not Jewdas, the ‘radical voices for the alternative diaspora’, who invited Corbyn for Passover. They practise their cod shtetl schtick like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern trapped in Fiddler on the Roof, but they are really hack Marxists who have watched too many Tarantino films. We eat in our own defence, always, and we won’t be stopped now. Why would we, when the glory of being Jewish is really the extent to which it annoys people? (I never said it wasn’t insane.)
So, you can’t get a table at Tish for solidarity. Tish is as busy as a Momentum meeting filled with accusations that Jews — sorry, Zionists — have subverted British democracy for their own ends. Because, without Jews and their media — yes, that means me — Corbyn would look pretty bloody electable. (Pause for laughter.) And to say otherwise is a smear made up by Jews. Jews like me. That is, very busy. If Corbyn were to walk in, he’d be attacked. And eaten. Without butter. Which is a shame. This leads to some rage over reservations, as Jews tend to treat kosher restaurants as their own home and are amazed that they cannot get a table in their own home thanks to having so many relatives whom they hate.
It used to be a branch of Giraffe, in which I remember a lurid and very bad Sunday lunch. Tish, of course, should be in Hampstead, not Belsize Park, but an Israeli restaurant opened in Hampstead last year and the market can’t bear so much Jewish solidarity.
Tish is calm, considering it is really an agonised political meeting disguised as a grand café that has gone kosher due to political fragmentation.
It is finely wrought, with high ceilings to contain the babble and icy blue walls and mad blue chairs with pink flowers. It’s a Jewish homage to the Wolseley, and that is no bad thing. The food is better than Bloom’s or 1701, which is the weirdest name I have yet heard for a restaurant. Bloom’s was too bad, and 1701 too good; haute cuisine feels wrong for people always on the move. Our most famous bread — the matzah cracker — was invented while running away. And then we wrote a book about it, which did quite well.
I eat scrambled eggs and sweet bagel toast. My companion eats tomato and pepper casserole. It is the least we can do in a country fond of mindless acts of solidarity; both are excellent. So, I recommend Tish and look forward to seeing Sadiq Khan there soon. Because not everyone is monstrous. Sometimes it just feels that way.