Victorian London - Publications - Etiquette and Advice Manuals - Dinners and Diners, by Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899 - Chapter 35 - Goldstein's (Bloomfield Street)

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Smoked Salmon. Solomon Gundy.

Frimsell. Matsoklese.
Pease and beans.

Brown stewed carp. White stewed gurnet.
Fried soles. Fried plaice.

Roast veal (white stew).
Filleted steak (brown stew).

Roast capon. Roast chicken. Smoked beef. Tongue.

Spinach. Sauerkraut.
Potatoes. Cucumbers.
Green salad.


Kugel. Stewed prunes. Almond pudding.
Apple staffen.

When I looked at the above I groaned aloud. Was it possible, I thought, that any human being could eat a meal of such a length and yet live? I looked at my two companions, but they showed no signs of terror, so I took up knife and fork and bade the waiter do his duty.
The raison d’être of the dinner was this: Thinking of untried culinary experiences, I told one of the great lights of the Jewish community that I should like some day to eat a “kosher” dinner at a typical restaurant, and he said that the matter was easily enough arranged; and by telegram informed me one day last week that dinner was ordered for that evening at Goldstein’s restaurant in Bloomfield Street, London Wall, and that I was to call for him in the City at six.
When I and a gallant soul, who had sworn to accompany me through thick and thin, arrived at the office of the orderer of the dinner, we found a note of apology from him. The dinner would be ready for us, and his best friend would do the honours as master of the ceremonies, but he himself was seedy and had gone home.
On, in the pouring rain, we three devoted soldiers of the fork went, in a four-wheeler cab, to our fate.
The cab pulled up at a narrow doorway, and we were at Goldstein’s. Through a short passage we went towards a little staircase, and our master [-255-] of the ceremonies pointed out on the post of a door that led into the public room of the restaur­ant a triangular piece of zinc, a Mazuza, the little case in which is placed a copy of the Ten Commandments. Upstairs we climbed into a small room with no distinctive features about it. A table was laid for six. There were roses in a tall glass vase in the middle of the table, and a buttonhole bouquet in each napkin. A piano, chairs covered with black leather, low cupboards with painted tea-trays and well-worn books on the top of them, an old-fashioned bell-rope, a mantelpiece with painted glass vases on it and a little clock, framed prints on the walls, two gas globes—these were the fittings of an everyday kind of apartment.
We took our places, and the waiter, in dress clothes, after a surprised inquiry as to whether we were the only guests at the feast, put the menu before us. It was then that, encouraged by the bold front shown by my two comrades, I, after a moment of tremor, told the waiter to do his duty.
I had asked to have everything explained to me, and before the hors-d’ceuvre were brought in the master of the ceremonies, taking a book from the top of one of the dwarf cupboards, showed me the Grace before meat, a solemn little prayer which is really beautiful in its simplicity. With the Grace comes the ceremony of the host breaking bread, dipping the broken pieces in salt, and handing them round to his guests, who sit with covered heads.
Of the hors-d’oeuvre, Solomon Gundy, which [-256-] had a strange sound to me, was a form of pickled herring, excellently appetising.
Before the soup was brought up, the master of the ceremonies explained that the Frimsell was made from stock, and a paste of eggs and flour rolled into tiny threads like vermicelli, while the Matsoklese had in it balls of unleavened flour. When the soup was brought the two were combined, and the tiny threads and the balls of dough both swam in a liquid which had somewhat the taste of vermicelli soup. The master of the ceremonies told me I must taste the pease and beans soup which followed, as it is a very old-fashioned Jewish dish. It is very like a rich pease-soup, and is cooked in carefully-skimmed fat. In the great earthenware jar which holds the soup is cooked the “kugel,” a kind of pease-pudding, which was to appear much later at the feast.
Goldstein’s is the restaurant patronised by the "froom," the strictest observers of religious observances, of the Jewish community, and we should by right only have drunk unfermented Muscat wine with our repast, but some capital hock took its place, and when the master of the ceremonies and the faithful soul touched glasses, one said “Lekhaim,” and the other answered the greeting with “Tavim.” Then, before the fish was put on the table, the master of the ceremonies told me of the elaborate care that was taken in the selection of animals to be killed, of the inspection of the butcher’s knives, of the tests applied to the dead animals to see that the flesh is good, of the soaking and salting of the meat, and the drawing-out of the veins from it. [-257-] The many restrictions, originally imposed during the wandering in the desert, which make shell­fish, and wild game, and scaleless fish unlawful food—these and many other interesting items of information were imparted to me.
The white-stewed gurnet, with chopped parsley and a sauce of egg and lemon-juice, tem­pered by onion flavouring, was excellent. In the brown sauce served with the carp were such curious ingredients as treacle, gingerbread and onions, but the result, a strong rich sauce, is very pleasant to the taste. The great cold fried soles standing on their heads and touching tails, and the two big sections of plaice flanking them, I knew must be good; but I explained to the master of the ceremonies that I had already nearly eaten a full-sized man’s dinner, and that I must be left a little appetite to cope with what was to come.
Very tender veal, with a sauce of egg and lemon, which had a thin sharp taste, and a steak, tender also, stewed with walnuts, an excellent dish to make a dinner of, were the next items on the menu, and I tasted each; but I pro­tested against the capon and the chicken as being an overplus of good things, and the master of the ceremonies—who I think had a latent fear that I might burst before the feast came to an end—told the waiter not to bring them up.
The smoked beef was a delicious firm brisket, and the tongue, salted, was also exceptionally good. I felt that the last feeble rag of an appetite had gone, but the cucumber, a noble [-258-] Dutch fellow, pickled in salt and water in Holland, came to my aid, and a slice of this, better than any sorbet that I know of, gave me the necessary power to attempt, in a last despairing effort, the kugel and apple staffen and almond pudding.
The staffen is a rich mixture of many fruits and candies with a thin crust. The kugel is a pease-pudding cooked, as I have written above, in the pease and beans soup. The almond pudding is one of those moist delicacies that I thought only the French had the secret of making.
Coffee—no milk, even if we had wanted it, for milk and butter are not allowed on the same table as flesh—and a liqueur of brandy, and then, going downstairs, we looked into the two simple rooms, running into each other, which form the public restaurant, rooms empty at 9 P.M., but crowded at the mid-day meal.
Mr. Goldstein, who was there, told us that his patrons had become so numerous that he would soon have to move to larger premises, and certainly the cooking at the restaurant is ex­cellent, and I do not wonder at its obtaining much patronage.
What this Gargantuan repast cost I do not know, for the designer of the feast said that the bill was to be sent to him.
I think that a “kosher” dinner, if this is a fair specimen, is a succession of admirably cooked dishes. But an ordinary man should be allowed a week in which to eat it.
13th December.