Some restaurants are just restaurants. You sit down, look at the menu, order food, eat, pay and go home. Other restaurants offer things in addition to the food. Ambiance is usually the first great step that sets a place above the standard of a normal eatery. Yet there is another level that truly sets a place apart from the majority of dining options.
Experience. The adding of something to your meal that makes it more than just a meal.
Tabernacle offers things on their menu that you’ll remember ordering for years to come. Some of the menu consists of food that arrives at your table and wows you with its flavor and plating, but it’s the items that are more experiential that stand out on a menu that has a lot to offer.
“We owe it to our guests to give them a vibrant experience and to keep striving to make sure they’re having a great time every time they come out,” said Josh Goldstein, Tabernacle’s director of operations. “Every guest matters and we want them to all walk away feeling like a VIP.”
When I was invited to Tabernacle, I was impressed with the ambiance and character that are apparent the moment that you walk in the door. The restaurant is full of cool features from booths that look like giant wine barrels to the several visible full-size wine coolers along the walls on the balcony seating area. But that extra feeling that something special is happening is what places Tabernacle in the top tier of kosher establishments.
If you’d like to start with a drink, the Holy Smokes cocktail is smoked at your table with real cherry wood and a kitchen torch. Or you can have a deliciously vibrant Caesar salad made tableside as your waiter explains its origin story. Your server can also have a burner brought to your table by the mashgiach so that they can help you with the Hot Pot, a do-it-yourself noodle bowl.
Don’t worry, they have experience items that are more carnivorous as well. If you order the Duck à l’Orange (limit of around a half dozen per night), they will first show you the whole bird when it’s done before carving it in the kitchen and returning it to you sliced with crepes and sauces for you to assemble as you wish. Unlike the duck, the Bone-In Ribeye for Two is brought to your table raw at first so you can gain a true appreciation for the “before and after” of your steak. Tabernacle also offers a Chateaubriand stuffed with truffles and sliced tableside so the patron can appreciate the skill that goes into perfectly serving such a large cut of beef.
Order the fondue for dessert and you’ll be treated to a cauldron of chocolate suspended over candles and served with a vast amount of options for dipping.
The more regularly plated items shouldn’t be underestimated. The Tuna Tartare is served atop avocado with a ponzu sauce and lavash. Taking a bit of avocado and tuna on a piece of lavash creates an amazing bite with balance of both flavors and textures. Korean Fried Chicken is the most popular appetizer on the menu and with good reason. A dish that they’ve perfected over time, the delightfully crispy chicken has a wonderful combination of sweetness and spiciness that anybody who loves gochujang can’t afford to miss. A new addition to the menu, the Grilled Baby Lamb Chops are made with a classic combination of pistachios and red wine. The interplay of the different textures is quite an accomplishment by Tabernacle’s new chef.
“My goal wasn’t just to make great kosher food, but for this to be a great restaurant on every level,” Executive Chef Jamal Bland said. “The vision for the food here is to consistently push the boundaries by using modern classics with a twist.”
A two-time competitor on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” Bland is making some interesting strides with some new items.
One of these is his Peppercrust Filet Mignon. Not only does he toast the pepper so as to be able to use a greater volume of crusting without as strong of a bite, he lightens the dish with a hollandaise sauce. Making a version without butter proved difficult until Bland decided to thicken the sauce using bone marrow. A more standard technique is used to make the Herb Roasted Mushrooms as a fabulous cashew cream will convince most diners that the sauce must be dairy.
I’d be remiss to not mention the Grilled Veal Chop as one of Tabernacle’s signature items that is always on the menu. This decadent combination of veal and potatoes may be the perfect thing to order for the guest who craves something special yet classic.
All in all, Tabernacle is an exquisite destination for any kind of night from a fancy date to a truly magnificent celebration. With an extensive wine list—Tabernacle Winery is a sister operation— specialty house cocktails, and even the option to savor Champagne for a special occasion, the drinks stand up to the reputation of the food.
Just remember to savor the experience.
Meat – Steakhouse – Waiter Service
Sunday: 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
315 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
Orthodox Union (OU)
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].
By Nati Burnside