ON MY MENU THIS WEEK: I’M GIVING WHILE I GORGE; DREAMING UP FUN RECIPES FOR PURIM AND ‘FESSING
JW3’s Taste of Syria pop-up will be in held in a dome with lamb kefte among the dishes
The café will be self-service, with no-booking. Meals are priced reasonably (for kosher) at £10 for a main; £12 for a main and a side dish; £14 for a main and selection of sides and £17 with dessert included. Complimentary cardamom coffee and mint tea will be available with meals. £1 from every meal will be donated to WJR.
Inside the dome, Syrian lights and rugs will create the ambience, while posters and video screens will highlight WJR’s work. “The idea was also to create a donor experience so that people could get a real feel for our work. I can’t take everyone to Greece, Turkey, or even Bradford where we are helping a lot of Syrian refugees to get settled here, but I can showwhat we’re doing,” Cooper adds.
WJR is not the first Jewish charity to focus on food. On Golders Green High Road, customers are thronging to Jami’s mental health café and vintage charity shop, Head Room. “Mental health cafés are not a new idea,” says Liz Jessel, Jami’s head of development. “There is one at Borough Market one day a week in a church crypt. But no one has done one in the heart of the community before, and we wanted ours to be somewhere lovely that you could go for lunch and catch up with a friend.”
On the walls of the charity shop/café, which has been designed to look more Hoxton than Holders Hill, are posters and pictures giving subliminal messages about mental health. A seminar room at the back is available for people to engage in debates and discussions — or to chat to a Head Up worker — the charity’s professional support workers available during working hours. “It has been so successul, we have now hired a dedicated Heads Up worker for Head Room who will start at the beginning of April,” Jessel adds.
The venue’s success also has to be attributed to the food, supplied by the kosher restaurateurs behind Soyo. Chef Or Golan, whose bright and colourful food shows influences from his time at Ottolenghi, has created a menu which takes the vintage theme into consideration.
“I was inspired by influences from Israel and Shoreditch,” Golan says. “I like to bring non-kosher concepts to the kosher world. I’ve also mirrored the vintage angle of the shop. We make toasties using old irons — the ones you heated up on a fire — and use them to press the bread down. We also chose every element of the restaurant design to fit the vintage spec, from pepper mills to the type of breads we’ve been baking.”
The breakfast menu ranges from Welsh rarebit to shakshuka, as well as challah French toast, Greek yoghurt with granola and a range of pastries. Lunches are sandwiches and a seasonal salad bar — which changes regularly — plus home-made pizza and pasta dishes or grilled fish to have with the salad. There is also a children’s menu.
A mitzvah never tasted so good.