“I felt like the real estate guy, someone who wants to have a meeting, and the finance guys who want to take people out for dinner, there’s no kosher restaurant where they can do that. They were going to a non-kosher place and bringing the kosher guy to the meal, hoping they could find something,” Allaham says. “Now, they make excuses just to come to Reserve Cut.”
This kosher base hardly defines the restaurant, however. Allaham says only around 30 percent of the clientele fall into that category. The other 70 percent simply show up because the food and ambiance are first-rate. And nearly all of that business has been fueled by word-of-mouth.
“I think we have one of the top five steaks in the city,” Allaham says. “I always give the advice, ‘Don’t take shortcuts.’ I always improve service. I keep improving ambiance. I want the whole package. The minute you step into Reserve Cut you’re going to feel the service. The minute you sit down at your table you’re going to see the ambiance, the candles, the dim lights, the white tablecloths. And then, the meal is going to be one of your best meals you’ve ever had.”
Keeping the restaurant kosher hasn’t been a problem. All of the ingredients are inspected by a Jewish rabbi called a mashgiach, which means “supervisor” in Hebrew. Meat isn’t eaten with dairy. Fish have scales and fins, and all animals need to have cloven hooves and chew their cud. In the kitchen, utensils used in meat preparation can’t come into contact with those used for dairy. Wine and other grape products must also be prepared by Jews or boiled.
Allaham’s staff color-codes the knives (red for meat, blue for fish, and white for vegetables), prepares its sushi in a separate area, and doesn’t allow milk, cheese, or butter to be used in its deserts.
While these outlines create challenges, they also act as a safeguard of sorts. Meat must be salted 24 hours from the time the cattle was slaughtered. Allaham says this process removes bacteria and ensures a cleaner, safer product.