Mountain View is now home to what is reportedly the only kosher full-service restaurant in the Bay Area, where meats and vegetables are scrubbed and inspected and Jewish laws are obeyed.
"The meat has to be ritually slaughtered," said Bobby Lent, one of eight Jewish owners who invested in The Kitchen Table at 142 Castro Street. Inside, chef Chaim Davids pointed to the lighted platform where meat and vegetables are inspected before being washed several times.
When asked if other restaurants he's worked at do this, he said simply, "They don't."
A kosher restaurant is a rarity, so finding a kosher chef wasn't easy. The owners found Davids in his native Baltimore, where he had been working for the famous Swiss kosher butcher, Wasserman and Lemberger, after stints at various restaurants.
In order to be a kosher chef, Davids has to eat kosher for every meal, which means the only places he can eat out locally are The Kitchen Table and Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels in Palo Alto.
A grand opening was held on Tuesday at the restaurant, and Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga attended along with council member Mike Kasperzak and Chamber of Commerce president Oscar Garcia. Local rabbis also attended, as did the reggae-singing pop star and Hasidic Jew Matisyahu, who happened to be eating there as the crowd gathered.
The owners claim The Kitchen Table is the only full-service kosher restaurant between Los Angeles and Seattle.
Playing a large part in the location choice was the site's proximity to the fastest growing Jewish population in the country -- according to Lent, the South Bay and Peninsula, especially Palo Alto and Sunnyvale -- as well as many high-tech companies that have satellite offices in Israel, such as Intel, Google and Applied Materials. Lent claims that Google fulfills its obligation to feed every one of its employees by sending the kosher-eating Jews to The Kitchen Table.
Among the unique practices of this restaurant is its employment of a Mashgiakh, the only one allowed to open and close the restaurant under Jewish law, and the person who ensures that kosher law is being followed while it operates. And while other restaurants are in full swing on Friday evenings and on Saturdays, Jewish law dictates that this restaurant be closed.
The Kitchen Table is "Glatt kosher," which encompasses all the various types of kosher practiced worldwide. It also encompasses Halal practices, so devout Muslims can eat there (Lent says he has targeted quite a few Intel-employed Muslims as customers).
The restaurant's menu features a mix of Mediterranean and Latin foods. According to Jewish kosher law, the restaurant cannot mix dairy and meat, so no dairy foods are found here. But diners will find matzo ball with chicken soup, various smoked and cured meats and hand-cut yam fries. Dishes range in price from $3 black bean hummus to a $12 corned beef sandwich on the lunch menu, and a $30 steak for dinner.
For more information, visit www.thekitchentablerestaurant.com.