Zobler’s Delicatessen, The Ned London‘s New York deli fantasy, is a really big deal and a good one. too. But because I fear its pleasures and prices may not endure, I’ve slapped a sell-by date on my recommendation.
The ground floor of the 5-star Ned London, with its seven restaurants amid 92 verdite columns, repurposes a magnificent banking hall in the City of London. The Grade-I-listed former head office of the Midland Bank was designed in 1924 by the great architect Sir Edmund ‘Ned’ Luytens for the clearing of transactions, not potato latkes. As a hotel lobby it is spectacularly sumptuous, but the scale of it is disorientating.
The Ned could stand to soak up some badly needed soul from Zobler’s restorative matzo ball soup. Or it could suck the soul out of it instead. Time will tell.
The Ned London grew out of a partnership between Andrew Zobler of New York’s Sydell Group and Nick Jones of the London-based Soho House & Co. Jones likes to bring over expert chefs on temporary visas to get his regional American restaurants off the ground in spectacular fashion, as he did with Pizza East and Electric Diner. To open Zobler’s he enlisted a legendary name or, more precisely, the heir to one: Zobler’s consulting chef is Isaac Gellis, the great great grandson of the Isaac Gellis, once the Lower East Side’s foremost purveyor of cured and kosher delicatessen meats. (Zobler’s is not a kosher restaurant.)
With his six-month visa nearly up, young Isaac’s future in London is uncertain and so too is Zobler’s enduring quality.
The toasted rye is packed with tender, high-impact, house-smoked pastrami, though the peppery kick is fierce, leaving a faintly bitter aftertaste. Less pepper and more fat on the meat would do wonders.
My dining companion, chef Jonny Rothfield, and I tried Zobler’s corned beef, the Jewish deli standard Londoners know as salt beef, on two sandwiches ordered a half-hour apart. The quality varied from cut to cut: The lean corned beef on The Purist, a no-nonsense sandwich dressed only with mustard (French’s, sadly, not deli mustard), was superb albeit a tad dry. The slices of corned beef on the wonderfully obscene Reuben, however, were marvellously moist and melty.
By asking just £3 for a bowl of matzo ball soup that actually has nice chunks of chicken in it and £8 for the powerhouse Purist, Zobler’s Deli offers incredible ROI – by which I mean the return on your investment, if not necessarily that of Ron Burkle, The Ned’s billionaire backer.
Go soon, before November 11th 2017.