Restaurant 1701 in London will be listed in the newest edition of the “Michelin Guide,” becoming the only kosher restaurant in the UK to hold that distinction. Making the accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that 1701 has only been open for four months.
“It is great to achieve this in such a short space of time since opening,” said owner Lionel Salama of the honor.
1701 opened in July in a space owned by London’s landmark Bevis Mark Synagogue. The dining room looks into the synagogue itself, and the name is a reference to the year of Bevis Marks’ founding.
The menu embraces a far-reaching definition of Jewish cuisine, with the website listing its numerous types: “Ashkenazi (Central and Eastern European), Sephardi (descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, including Italian, Greek, Turkish and Balkan), Mizrahi (North African, including Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian and Libyan), Judeo-Arab (Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi), Persian Jewish, Yemenite Jewish, Indian Jewish, and Latin-American Jewish.” And that’s not even counting the mix of cultures that constitutes Israeli food.
The restaurant elevates classic Ashkenazi “Jewish” dishes to fine dining status, like chicken soup (which is cheekily listed as Jewish penicillin on the menu) with tortellini instead of kreplach; chopped liver (with its close cousin foie gras, which also has Jewish origins); gefilte fish (made from wild sea bass instead of the usual carp); flanken; and a “Friday night dinner” of chicken breast and sweet potatoes.
But the international influences show in options like palau kabuli (an Afghani rice dish), adafina (a Sephardi stew), and sabich (Middle Eastern eggplant dish).
Each item on the menu is accompanied by a few sentences explaining the food’s history. Photos on the website show dishes that look more like modern works of art than meals.
The restaurant is certified kosher by the Sephardi Kashrut Authority.
The US is seeing its own renaissance of Jewish food with restaurants like Kutsher’s Tribeca and Mile End, but few of these are kosher.
As thrilled as he is, Salama doesn’t plan to stop yet. “Our ultimate goal is of course a Michelin star,” he told the Times of Israel.