Day late and a dollar short was this pig to the Mishkin’s party. On a Sunday afternoon, it was relatively languid but having been past several times (and with plenty of Polpo experience) I can imagine how loud and hectic it must get.
The food is an eclectic collection of inspirations and quite resolutely refuses to be pigeon-holed. Yes it’s heavy on the New York Jewish dishes, but East End Jewish features too, and yet it’s not kosher. You couldn’t expect so from the man famed for pork & fennel meatballs or the pork shoulder and pepper pizzette. And of course, it’s boozy, music-focused and sceney. So really it’s many miles from being Katz’s in London, which the laziest blurbs indicate.
However, matzo ball chicken soup (£6) isn’t something you come across every day in London. This was a small bowl with only one dumpling (you’d be strung up in NY for such parsimony) but it concealed plenty of shredded chicken and veg in a light chicken broth. Clearly this isn’t New York and there is better to be had in situ (for about $3-5) but I was glad of the escapism and warmth on that hideous afternoon. A regular ‘Jewish penicillin’ chicken soup might be a smart addition too, especially as a seasonal special.
Onwards from a wholesome bowl of cuddles to a rich, oozing mess. The mac ‘n’ cheese (with mustard and salt beef - £11) was quite something. Baked and crispy on top, with a select few of those teeth-threateningly burnt pieces. Plenty of chunks of salt beef – absolutely delicious. Do not be deceived by the size, this is rich, heavy fare. I was stuffed full about halfway through, but persisted to the inevitable stupor and slump.
East End chips with green ketchup were staggeringly tasty and moreish. The green ketchup seems to be something close to chip shop/Chinese curry sauce. Chips were crunchy, piping hot and yet soft inside, with some skins left on for a bit of variety. Superb.
Cinnamon donuts are rarely bad but I’ve had better (Disco Bistro’s were world-beating) - these weren’t fryer-fresh judging by the struggle they put up, and the chocolate sauce was thick but too springy, meaning it merely imprinted the donut, rather than transferring. Generous portion though.
Unlike Polpo and its small plates, there isn't any pressure to dine in a sophisticated or civilised Mediterranean manner – you are thoroughly encouraged to stuff your face, wipe the melted cheese off and waddle out. The size of the deli sandwiches (including the famed Reuben) attest to this. I would say it's by far the best value in the stable, for this reason. I'd struggle paying £10 for a pizzetta having gorged at Mishkin's.
Service and staff are similar (attentive, clued-up and quick, but totally into themselves) and drinks are top notch. The spiced negroni (£8) provided a zingy kick to the Sunday, desperately needed to attack the cheese gloop now sunken to the lowest fathoms of my stomach.
What I enjoyed about Mishkin’s its uniqueness and honesty. This is not healthy. These are not small plates. Or for sharing. It’s selfish, coronary-inducing food, far beyond the levels normally ascribed to ‘comfort’. It does have obvious themes, but constantly surprises, twists and ultimately bangs its own drum. Or shtick. I’m not aware of anywhere imitating it beyond the odd reuben, and in contemporary London gastronomy, a dash of originality is a precious thing indeed.
Food – 8/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value – 8/10
Tap water tales – 8/10 (jug brought and topped up)
Staff Hotness – 9/10 (as ever, hand-selected by Russell I'm sure)