Question: When one thinks of upscale, fine-dine events, what meal comes to mind? If you answered: “The evening meal, of course,” you and I share that response. Karen Chriqui, who owns Kinneret Grill along with husband Avner, wants to adjust our thought processes for a trial period, she says. “Have lunch. Try our sandwiches. Try our service and the food—the food is amazing.”
Lunch at Kinneret Grill is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Chriqui wants to introduce her upscale, fine-dining food to a wider swath of the Jewish Community. She believes that coming for lunch is a sure-fire way to do that. Lunch, she argues, is an easy way to try the restaurant’s bill of fare without making a big production out of it.
“It’s full service, but everything is a little more casual than in the evening. The portion sizes are a little smaller (with some sandwiches), but some are the same. And everything is designed to come out in 15 to 20 minutes, so people are able to get in and out fast, if they want,” she stated. The day I was there—twice within a 90-minute period, due to a busy spurt—there sat a table of six women when I arrived the first time and left the second time—about a 2-hour span. They were relaxing, chatting, enjoying an afternoon out; no rush, no hurry, and that too is fine with the Chriquis.
When people come, “they can get these sandwiches—our most popular sandwiches—for not very much money, only nine dollars and ninety-five cents, bundled with fries. Our fries used to be separate, but bundled fries with the sandwiches is standard now. And people love our fries!” she emphasized.
“These sandwiches are all very popular—so the schnitzel is a crispy fried chicken breast on a French baguette with lettuce, tomato and onion, served with honey Dijon mustard on the side.
“And the chicken shawarma sandwich is another favorite, and ours is different because it has an Israeli spice blend. That’s different than you’ll find anywhere (in Greater Cincinnati). This sandwich is like they serve in Israel,” she said. “The chicken is slow-roasted and sliced, then layered on a laffa and served with Israeli salad and tahina. It’s really good, and people have given our sandwiches, this sandwich and our others very high reviews—4.8 out of 5, and that is really hard to do; that’s a great score.”
Laffa, a noun new to me, also is called taboon flatbread of the Levantine. The flatbread is used widely in Israel and is of Iraqi Jewish origin. Typically, laffa is used to “wrap” certain foods to create a sandwich-like item that is easy to eat at table or on the go. Most often, laffa is used with shawarma, and for falafel or eggplant in wrap applications, but also as a tear-apart for dipping in hummus, matbucha, or with shakshuka. While pita bread is similar, laffa generally is larger, and features scorch marks from the heat of the taboon ovens in which it is baked. Kinneret Grill imports the bread from Israel, adding to the authenticity of the dish Chriqui prepares.
Of note for vegetarians, both the schnitzel and shawarma sandwich plates are available in vegan versions. Two other vegetarian options are the falafel sandwich and the veggie burger. The first features house-made falafel, according to Chriqui. “We do our own mix of the ingredients; we soak the chic peas overnight and grind them with onions and cilantro and garlic,” she said. The “sandwich” is served in a pocket pita, which is imported from Israel as well, and French fries complete the plate. The veggie burger is served California style, including guacamole topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and 1000 Island dressing.
Also, in the sandwich department there are a steak and a chicken breast sandwich, along with a classic burger. The burger is through the garden, including lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, with 1000 Island dressing as a topper. For a little extra, bacon made from beef can be added.
“People coming for lunch can get other dishes beside the sandwiches. We have shakshuka, the best shakshuka people tell us, which are the eggs poached in tomato sauce. There are salads and soups and hot sides, such as green beans made from scratch,” she said.
One other item she mentioned is a beer and wine license, which Kinneret Grill does not possess yet, but will have soon. We’ll let you know when that license is hanging, and wines and beers are available to complement your meal choices.
See you at lunch at Kinneret Grill!
4068 E Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236