London - Publications - Etiquette and Advice Manuals - Dinners and Diners, by
Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899 - Chapter 35 - Goldstein's (Bloomfield Street)
[-back to menu
for this book-]
GOLDSTEIN’S (BLOOMFIELD STREET)
Smoked Salmon. Solomon Gundy.
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.
Kugel. Stewed prunes. Almond pudding.
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
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
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.