No Meat, No Problem!


080114_ninedaysBy Allyson Freedman 

From chicken soup to cholent, Jews love their meat.

With a vast array of kosher meat restaurants in the Baltimore area, Jewish meat eaters are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out. Yet, from July 28 until Aug. 4, observant Jews are forbidden to eat meat during the nine days between Rosh Chodesh and Tisha B’Av.

But meat-eating Jews need not fear, many kosher meat restaurants have unveiled special fish and vegetarian menus for the nine days.

Newly opened African-inspired kosher steakhouse Serengeti and contemporary family-style kosher grill Accents have re-kashered their kitchens and created new dishes for the nine-day period. The sister restaurants, owned by Larry and Lara Franks, offer an exclusive fish menu featuring sesame-studded salmon, bronzed tilapia, oven-baked sole, pan-seared red snapper, Asian rainbow trout and more. In addition, Accents provides a full sushi bar to bring even more variety to the meat-free diet.

“You will be excited by what you eat. Both Serengeti and Accents have designed special fish menus for diners to enjoy over the nine days,” said Phil Rosenfeld, Serengeti’s front-of-house manager. “We have a beautiful menu that includes several fish, pasta and sandwich dishes. From seared ahi tuna to house-made vegan quinoa to vegetarian lentils, you will not feel deprived.”

Others who don’t have much adapting to do aren’t worried about losing business. Easta LaVista owner Elad Barmatz is confident his restaurant will thrive thanks to his primarily vegetarian cuisine. Easta LaVista, which brings Middle Eastern flavors to Baltimore, simply swaps fish for shawarma during the nine days.

“My restaurant is already 90 percent vegetarian,” said Barmatz. “Many restaurants close during this period, but Middle Eastern cuisine is known for classic vegetarian dishes like shakshuka, falafel and hummus.”

Offering Moroccan fish and salmon steak, the restaurant indulges diners with a buffet-style selection of salads and sides to accompany their main course.

“We give our diners plenty of variety in our food,” said Barmatz. “You decide what your plate looks like.”

While many restaurants tweak their menus, others decide to remain closed during the meatless nine days, as Barmatz mentioned. Kosher Bite, Royal Kosher Restaurant and David Chu’s will all go dark during this period.

David Chu’s manager Amy Fan believes that it is not worth keeping the restaurant open when her diners cannot consume meat.

“Of course, we are closed,” says Fan. “I can’ t imagine any of our customers paying for vegetables. Meat is our specialty.”

Despite many restaurants closing their doors, Baltimore Jews will not go hungry during the nine days.

“Whether you order fish, falafel or eggs, we are ready for you,” said Barmatz. “You won’t even know the meat is missing.”

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.

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