You think the Health District is strict? Imagine having rabbis show up every other day to inspect your lettuce. As a restaurant with the strictest kosher certification, it’s happening at the Kinneret Café. The strictness has led to a curiosity shop of a menu: No meat, but you can get tilapia with Moroccan couscous and mixed vegetables. Or an avocado and egg sandwich. Or shawarma made with seitan. (Seitan is not the Dark Lord, but a Japanese meat substitute made from wheat gluten.) It’s admirably diverse and inclusive, skipping its way around the Mediterranean Rim and deeper into the Middle East. There’s falafel, hummus, and a Greek salad, of course, as well as some Israeli specialties. Italy is well represented with paninis (including portobello mushroom or tuna), pasta (including fettucini Alfredo), and vegetarian pizza. There are Moroccan cigars (egg rolls filled with seitan and dipped in marinara), melawach (Yemenite pancakes served with tomato sauce and a hard boiled egg), fish and chips, and matzo ball soup. It’s a big ol’ culinary confusion, but even picky eaters will find something they like here. And if nothing strikes your fancy, there’s always their unique take on cheesecake (see above). Kinneret is not a big place. In addition to patrons who come here because they want to keep kosher, owner Avner Chriqui says they also get garden variety vegetarians and vegans, and those simply looking for healthy fare. I assume they also get a fair share of the puzzled who just want to try it out for the “what-the-heck-is-that?” factor. None of the above will be disappointed.
8316 Plainfield Rd., Dillonvale
Prices: $5–$19. Lunch Fri, lunch and dinner Mon–Thurs, dinner Sun.
Originally published in the August 2011 issue.