I love birthdays. I love the delicious fluttery feeling in your tummy on the morning of it. I love the cards, the messages of love from my parents that make me cry, the breakfast, the lunch, the bubbles, the dinner, the karaoke where possible, the candles and the cake crumbs. I’m cheeky enough to stretch it into a birthday week. But this year, my best friend Niamh, knows me well enough to give me a gift that would turn it into a birthday season. While my birthday is at the end of June, she booked us a trip to London to visit our friend a few months later.
After a gorgeous weekend trip, the last stop was to meet a friend for lunch at Mishkins, opposite the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, before heading to the airport.
It’s owned by Russell Norman, proprietor of quite a few achingly hipster spots in London like ‘Polpo’ and ‘Polpetto.’ Mishkins describe themselves as a ‘kind of Jewish deli with cocktails.’ It’s not kosher, but the menu is laden with New York Katz’s Deli style fare. It’s all Salt beef and Reubens on rye and sauerkraut and turkey schnitzel as well as Americana staples like Macaroni cheese. I was delighted.
We started with ‘Diamond Fizz’ cocktails, which are made with gin, prosecco and lemon and utterly delicious. A dear friend, Andy Clarke, had recommended to try them, and he was right to.
The interior is perfectly pitched in enveloping you in a New York State of mind. It’s all exposed brick and red leather booths and white formica tabletops and the proper plastic ketchup holders. I didn’t need to dream about being in my favourite city, on the Lower East Side, for those few minutes, I was there.
Niamh went for the Turkey Rachel on rye with slaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. I ordered the Steamed 3oz patty with onions and Swiss cheese and Eoin had the meatloaf with soft egg and mash. We shared fries.
The turkey sandwich was tasty, but enormous, and half was left behind. My burger was perfectly fine and perfectly forgettable, the steaming had ensured it wasn’t dry, and there was a lovely hint of caramelised onion. The meatloaf was the highlight, it was well seasoned and moist, with a dinky little tub of mash.
Sadly, the service was not kosher. It was a struggle to get any of the staff’s attention to check on a forgotten order. We had to ask a couple of staff members, a couple of times. A kind word and apology would have gone a long way, but the staff seemed to be more interested in each other’s outfits than serving customers. We felt like schmucks.
We sipped on the cocktails, laughed and got on with our lunch, and just for those few hours, I was as close to Katz’s as I could be.