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JS Restaurant

Jonathan Schofield goes to Prestwich and wishes he could sell his sole

Written by . Published on November 1st 2012.

JS Restaurant


Food when it moves out of its ethnic origins morphs. To adapt itself for sale to new markets it leavens off, rids itself of the sharper edges. If it comes from a working class tradition it irons out unsophisticated rawness. Red Chilli in Chinatown might feel totally authentic with its stir-fried pigs intestines and Chinese black pudding but it isn’t what peasants eat in isolated villages.

I’ve never eaten a mouse-mat before. And if I did I probably wouldn’t want to scorch it first. Occasionally hideous presentation can disguise good flavours but not here. For once in my life I would have loved to sell my sole.

Most food we believe is a bona fide genuine expression of ethnic cooking is nothing of the sort. If it’s not been changed to make it more acceptable to a greater range of tastebuds then it’s moved on to keep up with changes in food fashion. Even high French cuisine, which unlike most is top down food, created by chefs rather than in family kitchens, is subject to this and very different today from what it was in the court of Louis XIV.

Some cuisines don’t seem to have made that leap especially when it comes to eating out. Halal food in the form of Indian subcontinent food in restaurants is now everywhere and adapted to the modern market. Kosher food in the Sephardic (Mediterranean) and Ashkenazy (Eastern European) tradition has nothing like it when it comes to restaurants.

There are some superb Jewish owned bakers and delis in Manchester - Hyman’s on Waterloo Road for example - but in a city with a community that dates back more than two hundred years there are very few places to properly sit down and eat.

Which brings us to JS Restaurant on Kings Road, Prestwich.

It’s hard to blame either tradition or the failure to adapt for what I received here. The menu is vast but the quality low, the presentation basic, and the flavours drab. Sometimes you take a while to understand unfamiliar cuisines (although the JS menu has little that is unusual) and sometimes the food is plain bad. It was a case of the latter at JS.

The mains summed this up. The lemon sole (£14.50) in particular, was horrific, with the consistency and appearance of a yellowing mouse-mat. Now I’ve never eaten a mouse-mat before. And if I did I probably wouldn’t want to scorch it. Occasionally hideous presentation can disguise good flavours but not here. For once in my life I would have loved to sell my sole. If dust has a flavour then this embodied it. The lettuce on the side of the plate looked scared and curled quivering away.

The plate of salt beef (£14.50) was better by a fraction but overwhelming. By the fifteenth slice it was beginning to feel like someone was inserting more salt beef through a hole under the plate. The stuff wouldn’t go away and instead of having a good kicking hard robust taste was a flaccid and dreary thing. The menu had promised a ‘garnish’ of pickled cucumbers and homemade coleslaw. Check our picture for the elaborate nature of this garnish. The dessert of apple strudel (£3.50) was acceptable for cafe.

In truth JS Restaurant should drop the word restaurant. It’s a run-of-mill cafe and nothing more, with an old-fashioned attitude and decor

The only dish I sort of enjoyed, out of several, was the Isreali platter, sorry the Ultimate Israeli Platter (£10.95 for two). This had hummous, falafel, tehini, shawarma, pickles, chopped salad and pitta bread. There was a good range of foods and flavours to pick over and the dish at least looked edible. Later I wished, given the subsequent courses that the Ultimate Platter had been my last. It also proved that the big problems occur in this place when actual cooking is involved.

In truth JS Restaurant should drop the word restaurant. It’s a run-of-mill cafe and nothing more, with an old-fashioned attitude and decor that looks pure 1985. The service is hesitant and awkward. Maybe it doesn’t think it needs to improve, when we bowled in it was busy, but if it wants to attract custom other than hard-core regulars, it needs a massive re-think. But that might be part of the problem: while it isn’t pleasant to give independent places a kicking, you get the feeling that JS doesn’t care one bit.

This is shame and in the meantime Manchester is still waiting for a decent kosher restaurant that delivers and re-interprets Jewish food for an intrigued audience. We’re still waiting for that leap in the city that other cuisines have been making for decades.

Rating: 10/20
Breakdown: 4/10 Food
3/5 Service
3/5 Ambience
Address: JS Restaurant
7 Kings Road
M25 0LE
0161 798 7776

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27 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

I find the above report quite harsh on JS as it is a regular "no surprises" restaurant. To be honest, as a traveller, I have found myself in many Kosher rstaurants worldwide and many of them do not "excite" me, however are an option to eat at. Not every night can one afford to eat in London's finest restaurants i.e. Kai Feng (average £60 ph), 86 (£90 ph) etc, J.S, if you were to order te most expensive starter, main and dessert would total a MAXIMUM of £32. I hope my point is proven. Please feel free however to rant that there is no exquisite option, but dont slate Lidyl for not being Tescos!!P.S. Next doorJS is Sweet&Sour, an International Kosher Takeaway that serves proper ISrael Lamb Shawarma and Falafel aswell as geat american chicken etc. Its cheapp and chearful but I have never yet been dissapointed.

davidgAugust 21st 2008.

You obiviously haven't visited JS, try queueing in the take-away . the restaurunt now seats over 100.I believe it had to expand because of demand. , Try it it first before you give an opinion.What really pisses me off, is when people slag off any restaurant through the the media ,without trying to rectify the problem there and then.After all wouldn't the Prat want his hard earned money back (schofield).

1 Response: Reply To This...
pollolocoNovember 2nd 2012.

David....you need to calm down, seriously. It's called an opinion and we are all entitled to one. Why has this review upset you so much...do you have an interest in the business?

Vinny JonesAugust 21st 2008.

What you all ranting about? if you dont like the place or cant afford to eat there, dont go, but i tell u, u dont know what you missing ! i was there the other night had a major slap up meal, my salt beef did not look anything like the one in the pic (obviously someone messed around with it before they took the pic) !!!!!

AvoAugust 21st 2008.

67,000 meals served this year alone??? Given that it's only August and working from a possible five day week, that equates to over 400 covers a day??? Is that possible from such a small place?

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

J S rocks the best kosher restaurant in the uk keep up the good work and gr8 food you all dont know what you are talking about!!!

PhiltaylorphotoAugust 21st 2008.

davidg, perhaps you are the prat here? Have you noticed that this site is Manchester Confidential? It might have lots of yellow all over the site, but that's where the similarity ends with a newspaper owned by Guardian Media Group beginning with M. Jonathan USED to work for Guardian Media Group many years ago, but no longer. I know that Man Con's lack of a decent food photography might have been raised in the past, but I suspect that the food above might still look like puke given the best lighting in the world.The Caribbean restaurant reviewed on Man Con recently has been serving the local community for years.The food is brilliant 'soul food' but the surroundings are basic and down to earth. But, it knows it's a caff serving decent food, and doesn't pretend otherwise.

AnnaAugust 21st 2008.

You're right, the food is atrocious at JS, especially given the prices they charge!! No consideration given to presentation etc.

davidgAugust 21st 2008.

You absolute prat. What gives you the right to insult a restaurant that has serviced the jewish public for over 50 years.Your sneaky underhanded review.I supose you complained at the time about the food, so any problem could be rectified , or did you crawl back under the stone from where you came and write such dribble. JS has served over 67,000 meals this year, funny they keep coming back for such crap food . And has been a corner stone of the Jewish community in Manchester.Pity a good newspaper like the MEN employs such plonkers.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

davidg: "what gives you the right...?"Err its called a restaurant review and free speech. Suggest you are the prat here, not the person just doing his job, and who is entitled to his opinion!Anyway if the restaurant is as wonderful and as filled with loyal custom as you say, then it won't be getting its knickers in a twist like your good self will it?

Marcus Normancus IIIAugust 21st 2008.

Hey , little boy Davidg , show some manners to the grown ups . This restaurant has been a standing joke for years . Reread the article again . 67 , 000 crap meals in one year , no wonder people have such a low opinion of jewish food NOT . If such a deli aka New York came to Prestwich . I would live in it and make the small boy David do the dishes

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

For a people who love their food it is disapointing that a noted Kosher restaurant gets a bit of a kicking!!! Deserved though!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

Maybe, rather than a Kosher restaurant (as someone suggested), Manchester needs a Jewish/Israeli food restaurant. Something a bit Like Cedar Tree in the NQ, serving traditional Jewish and Israeli food from various origins.

AvoAugust 21st 2008.

Hey Manc! Its funny how places you used to eat at in the past are sometimes never quite as good as you remember them. Had a night out in Oldham last night, first time in years, and we visited a takeout we used to go to religiously. Same owners, same staff but the food wasn't as good as we remembered. Anyway, can't linger on here as I wouldn't want to be accused of incessant flirting ;)!!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

Its called Pagoda by the way!!!

ancoats girlAugust 21st 2008.

I love Jewish food - but at these prices (and with those photos) I'd be hesitant to give it a go. What I'd love, love love is a proper bustling Jewish deli in town serving pastrami on rye half a foot high, beautiful cheesecake and chicken noodle soup like the delis in New York or Toronto. Now that would be amazing!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

JS Rumbled!!! As someone who only eats Kosher meat in restaurants and with little other choice...JS is not on my list. I have been, and I have been dissapointed. There is an alternative option... a Kosher chinese believe or not, that dabbles in Indian and Israeli.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

The article is spot on - our experience since the JS was taken over, is that it has gone very expensive, the service is poor and we would not be visiting it again.

Thoroughbred MancAugust 21st 2008.

That's exactly what I was thinking Avo. I think I was having rather starry eyed memories about this place when I recommended it on the Caribbean review Phil Taylor refers to above. Because it's absolutely bobbins now. And it was only a quarter full at lunch-time.

wej girlAugust 21st 2008.

your all getting far too ott! its a nice place to eat and my opinion they are always serve way to much (meals are huge) and yeh there is always a q for take away(cant be that bad!) you fancy a nice kosher meal - u think JS - always have and always will - so think your report was a bit harsh as the people that go are the people that are happy to pay their prices - bump into their neighbours and know a good bowl of chicken soup when they find it!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

Personally I think your review of the JS is a bit harsh, I have eaten there many times and I find the food to be freshly cooked and served in a pleasant manner. There is a varied menu and in general I definitely find the quality to be good. I was quite surprised at your picture of the Salt beef, I have had that dish many times and it has always come neatly sliced and presented in an attractive way, nothing like you were served when you went. As regards the fish I tend to have the fried fish in batter, it is freshly cooked with home made chips and mushy peas. As someone who eats out regularly in non Kosher restaurants I personally feel JS is definitely worth a visit as there is something for everyone.

ADAugust 21st 2008.

The food at Red chilli may not be what poor chinese pesants eat at the end of a hard days graft but it most certainly is the kind of food that the average chinese family chooses when they eat out, or cook for a special occasion at home. Which is exactly why Red chilli is so good.Shame about JS, vote no.2 for a new york style deli comes from me!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

I was very surprised at your review of JS. Personally I have never had a problem with the food which I have always found to be of excellent quality and more importantly traditional - which is after all what it is all about. Like many other modern day Jews I frequent many other, and often upmarket, non kosher, restaurants but when you go to JS you go with the purpose of going 'back to your routes'. I found your slating exceptionally unfair. The reality is that there isn't a need for more kosher restaurants as most modern day Jews are not bothered about eating kosher in a restaurant or not. With the high cost of Kosher meat and the cost of 'supervision' from the Beth Din it makes it impossible for Kosher restaurants to come onto the scene, let alone stay on the scene. The fact that JS has been around for more than 25 years says it all. Clearly some people like it! You must accept that many non Jewish people will not enjoy the experience but it is because it isn't their type of food, not because the food isn't any good!

AnonymousAugust 21st 2008.

I have never been to JS and based on this review wont bother! But I wholeheartedly agree, we really need a good kosher restaurant in Manchester, akin to the ones in Golders Green, serving good quality Israeli and middle eastern food

SimonJanuary 8th 2013.

Of course the JS is terrible and of course that doesn't stop it being busy. If you can eat only kosher food then you have a very limited number of places to eat. The JS, being one of the best known of the very small number of kosher restaurants in Manchester and with a wide menu, captures a good deal of the market, (a lot of it reluctant). This 'monopoly' position also explains the lack of invention, poor service, plain bad cooking that goes on here. To be fair though, if you base what you eat on what a god told you that you can, you probably deserve to eat a mouse-mat in any case.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2013.

Its time the J-population of restaurateurs took some inspiration from their cousins in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Modern restaurants there are possibly the best in the world. Kosher does not have to be dull!

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidFebruary 4th 2013.

Your absolutely right about that.Tel Aviv has fantastic restaurants and cafes,with a very big Mediterranean and Arab influence,what with all the immigrants from Morocco and North Africa.Manchester Jewish food does not seem to represent the modern face of Israel at all.

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