Mishkin’s sounds like it could be something akin to a Promised Land: big, brash sandwiches; punchy cocktails; and enough buzz to satisfy even the surliest New Yorker. Mention the word kosher and you’ll be laughed out the door – it actually offers sexed-up comfort food for the unknowing goyim. But this goy knows. Mishkin’s falls well short.
Nevertheless, the room is a treat and a half. Russell Norman after all – a foodie sleb, of sorts (Polpo et al) – is the puppet master, and the feel is unmistakably of an American diner: chequered floor, squashy red booths, paper napkins. The possibility of private dining (for four) within an old BBC sound booth is also a nice touch. Naff, you say? Nonsense schmonsense. Drinks went down fairly well: a mean little vial of gin sour (Hayman’s Old Tom, lemon & bitters) (£7.00) could have done with a bit more zing, otherwise across the table the banana malt milkshake (£4.00), served in its cutesy metal mixer, hit all the right notes.
The menu, however, is a deceptive little beast. Prices hint at fare of biblical proportions, except what arrives is barely enough to feed one of us, let alone the Twelve Tribes. A sumptuously-pink lamb slider (£5.00), with a killer cucumber and mint yoghurt dip, was by far the best (although distinctly un-Jewish) offering. Salt beef and Colman’s macaroni cheese (£11.00) gave a good mustardy punch, but lacked all the gooey, cheesiness a dish of this kind expects. Then, half a salt beef sandwich (Colman’s & pickles) (£5.00), again, had decent heat, yet the meat was dried-out and rather daintily cut, not the hunk of cow it should have been. And the over-salted, gluey mess that purported to be a chopped salad (£4.00) was nothing short of vegicide. But Reuben on toasted rye (pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss & Russian dressing) (£11.00) was much better than its predecessors, although decent, melted Emmental might have helped hold it all together. Good bread and pickles, mind.
What masquerades as a quick, cheapish lunch is nothing of the sort. Service is frustratingly slow. Throw into the equation bottom-blisteringly painful chairs and a din that would make any nursery seem a place of tranquility and we couldn’t wait to leave. And I don’t mean to kvetsch, but I get just a teensy bit irate at the inclusion of a ‘voluntary’ charity donation on the bill. Oy vey!
£54 for two (including service)
Food; 4 Service; 3 Ambience; 7
Mishkin’s, 25 Catherine Street, Covent Garden