As kosher as it gets
The Kitchen Table in Mountain View is one of a kind
Many restaurants struggle to stand out from the crowd. Not a problem for The Kitchen Table, celebrating six months of strictly kosher dining in Mountain View.
It is definitely open for Christmas.
The Kitchen Table claims the title as Northern California's only certified glatt kosher, sit-down, meat-serving restaurant. Glatt kosher is generally considered the highest standard of Jewish dietary laws (although the word glatt actually means "smooth," in reference to wholesomeness and quality). No pork, shellfish or dairy products cross The Kitchen Table's threshold. The restaurant closes for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath — from 2:30 p.m. Friday until dinner on Saturday.
Also unusual, at The Kitchen Table the vegetarian daughter can sit down with the lactose-intolerant aunt, the lamb-loving uncle, the mom who is allergic to gluten, and all will enjoy the meal. You don't have to be, or even understand, kosher.
The idea behind The Kitchen Table is to set a place for everyone. Even people without cars, as the restaurant lies a block from the Caltrain station.
Everything is made from scratch. Chef Chaim Davids grew up working in pizza and kosher restaurants in Baltimore, got a culinary degree and was the sous chef for the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant of California's kosher winery, Herzog.
He brings a global vision to The Kitchen Table, kicking up the traditional Eastern European Jewish deli fare many notches with chiles and aioli. Some dishes may fly too high and confuse you. But the menu changes constantly, offers a variety of daily specials and is never dull.
A recent dinner started with warm bread, an Italian-Jewish marriage of focaccia and challah, and a puree of roasted eggplant. Our best dishes came from the Small Bites section. Tuna ceviche ($7) was an excellent appetizer, even though the fish was fresh red rather than marinated and there weren't quite enough plantain chips to scoop up the luscious avocado relish. Irregularly cut yam fries ($4) come with poblano-lime aioli.
The knish of the day ($6) is a pastry of many stuffings. Ours had tender pieces of chicken amid onion and potato, sitting on a dab of sweet, grainy mustard and a handful of crisp frisee lettuce.
The Kitchen Table salad ($6) currently features shaved beets, persimmons and matchstick potatoes on a bed of baby greens. It can become an entree with add-ons of fish, chicken and roasted vegetables.
With the irresistible mouth feel and flavor combination of salty-sweet-crispy, the lamb BLT sandwich ($7) is an inspiration. Davids does his own curing and smoking. Add a side dish, and the little lamb BLT could make a meal.
The chipotle barbecued pulled chicken sandwich ($12) was pleasantly spicy, but smothered in bread that was toasted either too much or not enough. It just tasted stale. Pastrami ($12), although very lean, was too salty and like the chicken, overmatched by bread. The better parts of both were the accompanying salads: cole slaw and German potato.
Chicken and matzoh ball soup ($5), although rich and well-stocked with tender chicken, carrots, onion, celery leaves and a spicy kick of adobo, was sunk by a very heavy, undercooked matzoh ball.
Entrees range from the heirloom grain bowl ($12) to rib-eye steak ($30). The lamb shank ($29) glistened in chocolate-chile sauce, but its best features were jalapeno corn bread and a hearty posole soup of hominy grits, creamy white and black barley beans.
By the time of dessert, you've gotten the sweet-savory concept. Spicy frozen chocolate custard may be one step beyond. The chocolate babka, a pastry made in this case with soy milk, would have been just as good without the added heat.
The shotgun-shaped Kitchen Table seats 60 people inside and 20 out in front, but it feels homey as the name implies. Dark wood chairs and wainscoting, china cabinet and chandeliers convey warmth. As does a loop of digitized family photos, to which patrons are invited to contribute, setting their own Kitchen Table.
The Kitchen Table
142 Castro St., Mountain View
Mon.-Thu.: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; happy hour 4-5 p.m.; dinner 5-9 p.m. Fri.: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat.: Dinner 7:30-11 p.m. Sun.: Brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner 5-9 p.m.
Credit cards: yes
Alcohol: Wine and beer
Outdoor dining: yes
Party and banquet facilities: yes