Sometimes a new restaurant opens and there’s a couple things on the menu that look great. Never, however, have I ever seen so many dishes that seem specifically built for me personally as those on the menu at The Gorbals.
I was more than intrigued when chef Ilan Hall described his new restaurant’s cuisine as “old Jewish food date-raped by bacon.” In principle it sounded like a mantra I could live by. In practice it looks symphonic:
Octopus with gizzards and lemon
Description: This is a warm salad, composed of octopus, braised in red wine, then made crispy on the griddle. Alongside this are chicken gizzards that have been slow-cooked in olive oil, until tender, and then finished on the griddle to make crispy as well. These are all dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic, parsley, and crispy pinto beans.
Cucumber-Avocado Salad fried chickpeas, zahatar
Description: This is fresh raw cucumber, chunks of avocado, all tossed in a vinaigrette made with zahatar (a middle eastern spice blend of sesame, sumac, black pepper, and hyssop). The finishing garnish on this is a large fried sesame leaf and fresh garbanzo beans.
Bacon-Wrapped matzoh balls with horseradish mayonnaise
Description: This is a traditional matzoh ball wrapped in bacon, with fresh black pepper, and mayonnaise infused with fresh horseradish. (If they ask, the mayonnaise is made in-house) Matzoh balls are a dumpling made with matzoh meal, eggs, seltzer, baking powder, and olive oil.
Sweetbreads with cashews and corn
Description: Sweetbreads are the thymus gland of a veal, that have been crusted with cashew nuts and flour, deep-fried until crispy, served over fresh sweet corn with smoked paprika butter melted over it. This is finished with fresh sliced scallions, and a vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar, olive oil, and chunks of cashews.
Shepard’s pie in potato with egg
Description: This appears like a stuffed potato skin, and in fact that’s what it is. In the skin there is ground beef, spiced with cumin and coriander, and on top of it are mashed potatoes and a soft-cooked quail egg. This dish is also finished with fresh chives.
Gefilte fish and chips dill vinegar
Description: Gefilte fish is ground whitefish, blended with matzoh meal and eggs (almost like a meatball), spiced with fresh dill and dill seed, formed into croquettes, battered, and deep-fried. This is served with a side of fries that have been double-cooked, once in water, and then deep-fried until crispy. This is served with a side of dill-infused vinegar.
Turkey wing fatback tabouleh
Description: This is a whole turkey wing (with the bone) that has been slow-roasted in the oven until very tender and crispy, with a tabouleh salad: bulgar wheat, fresh parsley, tomatoes, and chunks of pork fatback (pork belly?) browned in a pan and finished with vinegar.
Chilled tomato soup bread salad
Description: This is done in the style of gazpacho with fresh cucumbers, roasted red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil, blended while maintaining some texture. This is served with a garnish of bread croutons, soft-cooked onions, and fresh cracked pepper.
Razor clam omelette green onions and garlic
Description: This is razor clams and (depending on the market) other clams, steamed just until they are opened, finished with chicken eggs, garlic, green onions and a little bit of worcestershire sauce and old bay seasoning.
Manischewitz-braised pork belly clapshot and mustard
Description: This is belly of a pork, with the skin, marinated overnight in manischewitz red wine, then slowly braised until tender, served on top of clapshot (equal parts mashed potatoes and mashed turnips with chives and butter). The pork belly is then slathered with spicy mustard.
And with that, I’d like to extend an invitation to Ilan Hall to join me on the yet-to-be-scheduled Jews Eating Chinese Food Marathon.