The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

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.

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