Crispy Potato Latkes
Golden brown and hefty with potato and onion, the potato latkes can be eaten with sour cream and apple compote ($9) or with sour cream and a trio of caviars ($18). We tried the caviars: cuttlefish, trout, and wasabi roe. The wasabi roe was the most memorable, distinctly both spicy and sweet.
Cured Salmon Trio
Served up like a flight of smoked salmon, the cured salmon trio ($19) included generous slices of nova and gravlax, and is appropriately listed in the charcuterie section of the menu. Kutsher's gets the pastrami smoked salmon from Samaki smokehouse in Upstate New York, just 20 or so minutes away from the original Kutsher's. Thanks to a custom spice rub, the salmon has a hefty, meaty flavor rife with smoke and spice, a real contrast alongside the nova (the most fishy) and the dill coated gravlax (the sweetest). They're meant to be eaten with a chive, scallion, and cream cheese spread atop slices of Orwasher's pumpernickel bread.
Alan's "Cherry Lime Ricky" ($12)
Kutsher's playful approach to cocktails is exemplified in Alan's Cherry Lime Ricky, a boozy update on a soda fountain classic. Cherry-vanilla compote, blueberry-lime cordial, and grenadine (all made in-house) are spiked with a dose of white rum, making it taste like nothing so much as a boozy, not-too-sweet Shirley Temple.
Charoset Chopped Salad
Meant to emulate the Passover staple including apples, nuts, cinnamon, and sweet Kosher wine, the charoset chopped salad ($13) combines butter, lettuce, chickpeas, apples, cucumbers, almonds, cherry tomatoes, and challah croutons in a lemon-honey vinaigrette. The sweet elements of the dish don't quite get as sweet as charoest does, but it's fresh and texturally varied, with challah croutons to finish.
Wild Halibut Gefilte Fish
Undoubtedly the most appetizing gefilte fish I've ever seen—as it didn't resemble a sodden grey lump, or a cold matzoh ball covered in goo—Kutsher's wild halibut gefilte fish ($12) managed to maintain a similar flavor profile to the comforting classic. The fish, finely ground and studded with diced carrots, celery and sweet onion, had a delicate, sweet flavor and a satisfying crunch from the vegetables. It's paired with accompanying horseradish beet tartare— the beets were laced with a subtle hint of horseradish, pungent against the sweet.
Milton's Mark ($12)
The Milton's Mark is an homage to Zach Kutsher's family: his grandfather, Milton, and his father, Mark. Appropriately, the cocktail is made with Maker's Mark, and blended with sweet vermouth, Amargo pisco bitters, and maple habanero syrup. They're not kidding about the habanero—this is a spicy cocktail that burns your throat as you drink. The spice is somewhat countered by the sweet maple, but expect a serious kick with every sip.
Friday Night Roast Chicken
The roast chicken ($38) is described as a plate for two, but arrives in such abundance that it might serve more.
It's served broken down into pieces, atop of a pile of pletzel stuffing—no, that's not a typo. A type of Jewish foccacia, pletzel is generally covered in onions and seeds. Here, it is cubed and cooked with maitake and black trumpet mushrooms, adding even more meaty heft to the dish, and soaking up the juices from the chicken.
Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Simple and satisfying, Kutsher's brussel sprouts ($8) are pan roasted with olive oil and rosemary, and thoroughly charred.
Grilled Duck Breast ($29)
"The duck is my favorite," Zach Kutsher declared. It's a breast thickly sliced and peppery, matched with the accompanying duck leg. The leg is braised in cholent, a bean stew traditionally prepared on the Friday afternoon before Shabbat begins. Left to simmer, it provides enough food to last through the Sabbath when traditionally, cooking is forbidden. The bed of Israeli couscous was studded with sweet, slow-roasted tomatoes, bathing in the rich duck juices.
Chocolate Egg Cream
I've tried "fancy" egg creams, and I'm not having them. Give me a classic—Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer—is there anything better? Fortunately, Kutsher's agrees with me. I'm glad to see their chocolate egg cream ($5) in the classic mode; sweet, creamy, and refreshing thanks to the bubble of seltzer on your tongue.
Black and White Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich ($9)
Soft black-and-white cookies are lightly glazed with the necessary chocolate and vanilla frostings, then filled with il laboratorio vanilla gelato. It's served with a thick, rich dark chocolate dip.