Let's Eat

A new class of kosher at One Ashbourne

The family behind the Aviv and Met Su Yan have taken kosher dining up a notch with their new venture


I’m sitting at a shiny, black marble table, tucking into arancini. The deep fried risotto balls are perfect. Crisp coating, chewy rice inside and each one perched on a perfectly piped platform of truffle mayo. It’s kosher restaurant dining, but not as I know it.

This plate of deliciousness has been served to me at One Ashbourne where I’ve come to meet co-owner, Daniel Urinov. The restaurant opened last July, without pomp or ceremony on the site that was Joseph’s bookstore in Temple Fortune.

Gone is the quirky café and dusty piles of books in the adjoining shop. In their place, two shiny dining rooms lined with glossy tables, grey tongue-and-groove lined walls, smoked mirrors and simple, uncluttered lines.

“We ripped out everything,” explains Urinov, sitting opposite me on a quiet Tuesday lunchtime in the bright room. “We used a top design company that had done some restaurants that we liked in central London in the wider market. We wanted something clean, contemporary and upmarket.”

Father of two, Urinov, 41, his brother, Adam and business partner Ben Teacher have founded the restaurant together. The brothers have the restaurant trade in their blood.

Their father, Eli Urinov, emigrated here from Israel when Daniel was two. Urinov senior founded the Aviv restaurant in Edgware 35 years ago, then, 11 years ago, opened second restaurant, Met Su Yan. The brothers helped out on weekends and evenings when they were at school and university. “After university we ended up working together,” says Daniel, who helps run the two Edgware outlets with his brother and their father. The Temple Fortune eastery is the first restaurant that Eli has not been involved with.

This is not the family style of dining of the Aviv. It’s more special occasion-worthy, with prices to match — main courses range from £18 - £30.

“The pitch here is specific. Both finish and menu are at the higher end of the market. Some of the dishes are fairly intricate, but not ‘all the way’ fine dining — with the gels and foams that take half an hour to put the food on the plate with tweezers. It’s somewhere in between that and more casual dining. I think there was a demand for that” he says.

Urinov has seen this style of restaurant increasing in the mainstream market. “There has been an explosion of restaurants at this pitch — restaurants like the Ivy Café chain.”

Interestingly, with Middle Eastern food more on-trend than ever, they have eschewed the hummus, pita and shwarma of Aviv for an eclectic menu of crowd pleasers. The arancini dish sits alongside tuna ceviche in the list of starters and main course options include pumpkin ravioli with soya glazed halibut and crispy duck salad.

Inspiration came from inside and outside the kosher world: “My brother and I and Ben were inspired by menus in both the kosher and non-kosher markets. Kosher inspirations were places we’ve enjoyed in Israel and the United States. The non-kosher ones were closer to home. It’s possible to gain insight into the cuisine and feel of a place even if you can’t taste the food. ”

They employed chef Stavros Papadakos, who has a non-kosher background, most recently at Chelsea restaurant, Eight over Eight. “We wanted someone who knows what’s current and what’s expected as standard at the higher end of the general market place.”

“Stavros was very interested [in kashrut] and did his own research into kosher food and came back well-informed.” For a couple of months before they opened, they’d meet in the kitchens at their other restaurants, trying out dishes from their list and dishes Papadakos suggeted.

This is not the only new, more formal kosher eatery to have opened in north west London in the last year. Within a few miles you’ll find Hampstead’s Delicatessen, Tish in Belsize Park and Zest at JW3. “The choice has improved dramatically over the last four years or so,” says Urinov.

What’s behind this move in kosher? He suspects it may just be supply and demand. “Kosher diners are eating out more and are used to different restaurants in Israel and the US. People want a nicer restaurant experience. Those people that eat vegetarian or fish out are also more aware of what’s out there.”

He sees the restaurant’s suburban location as an advantage. “At this end of Temple Fortune there aren’t any other high end kosher restaurants. Parking is sensational and many of our customers can walk here, which they love.”

Local visitors include Jonathan Ross, who ate there a couple of weeks ago.

My next choice — salmon tartare — is just as pretty as the arancini. Tiny cubes of smooth, creamy salmon are paired well with a punchy, citrus yuzu ponzu dressing. It’s gone in minutes.

Dishes like this seem to be doing well for them, as Urinov says they’ve been busy every night since opening. He knew he had to hit the ground running: “In the kosher market, if you get it right, you’ll see customers every week or two. The flip side is that if you don’t, the damage to one’s reputation is hard to repair. We don’t have the luxury enjoyed by non-kosher restaurants, whereby, if you get initially get it wrong there are still millions of Londoners as potential first-time customers.”

They’re planning a new autumn winter menu, set lunch and a Shabbat meal delivery service for groups of ten plus. They will also be taking bookings for the entire restaurant for private events.

What does he think the key is long term? “Good quality food in a nice, clean environment; excellent service and value for money. And consistency — that’s key for a local restaurant in the kosher market.”

It’s not cheap, but the food and presentation is definitely a step up. Maybe not the place for an every day meal but definitely somewhere for a special celebration and worth celebrating.

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