Karen Chriqui of Kinneret Grill is on a mission of sorts.
Chriqui, along with husband Avner, own and operate the fine-dine restaurant, located in Dillonvale Shopping Center.
The mission: “I want to talk about brisket and other things that aren’t on our menu. I want people to know we can (and do) cater parties and meetings, business groups, bar mitzvahs, things like that.”
She singled out brisket for a reason. “It’s not on the menu, so people naturally would not think about it, but we do it (for catered events). We do slow-roasted brisket with onions and spices. And we sell it by the pound or by the serving, just depending on how you want it.
“We have a special catering menu that they can choose from,” she said, emphasizing that catering customers are able to pick and choose from items that Jewish families favor. “For instance, they could order a complete brisket dinner, selecting things like an Israeli salad, roasted red potatoes and the brisket. They can order it per person, for 10 people or 40 people – whatever the crowd – and we can do it in trays and provide all the plates and utensils, and we can even provide service if they want that. We did a tray of brisket for eight people and we cut the brisket for them. Things like that, most people don’t know we do it and they really are pleased when they find out we can.”
Chriqui emphasized that the same cooking regimen her kitchen applies to foods served in the restaurant are employed in catering events. In other words, no “rubber” chicken, which seems always in play when large crowds gather.
“Everything here is made from scratch; nothing is out of a box,” she said. “It’s all authentic, Israeli, Jewish, ethnic. Everything is made fresh with real herbs, real spices, and you can taste that difference in every dish we put together, whether it’s here (at Kinneret Grill) or something we cater for you.”
She went on to give examples of scratch cooking: “We make our own soup stock from scratch, with real onions and celery and carrots. For the chicken soup, we use kosher chicken, which has a higher salt content, which really pops the flavor of our chicken soup. Just that little difference makes a big difference in the flavor of the soup; makes it taste so much better (than soups made with inferior chicken).”
Chriqui provided examples of recent affairs catered by Kinneret Grill. “We did the Wexner Foundation event recently and did brisket and (chicken) schnitzel, and we did couscous and fruit tarts and all of that for their event. We did the VIP dinner for the new wing of the Jewish Hospital too. It’s part of our business and word is getting out there, but we want everybody (in the Jewish community) to know. For instance, we did AIPAC too, and that was the whole dinner – a buffet meal – with mini shish kababs of chicken and beef, and the chicken schnitzel too. We did salads and hummus and fruit trays; really a beautiful presentation. They bought for the whole crowd and we provided everything.
“One of the reasons we want to get the word out more broadly is because Rosh Hashana is coming (Sept. 30-Oct. 1),” she said.
Speaking of Rosh Hashana, Chriqui said that not all catered events she’s handled are lavish, giant affairs. She spoke of a salmon dinner for six done recently. The components of the meal were provided in trays, family style so that the six diners arranged their own plates of food. “We can do that for six or 60 or even more, but the point is we want people to know we do it.”
Speaking more generally about the food coming from the Kinneret Grill kitchen, Chriqui said she is gratified over the response she’s received. “It’s really good. People come here because it’s ethnic. We’re the only restaurant of this type in Cincinnati, and really in this region. We have people who come from all over, just to eat here,” she said.
She is correct about that, too. While this interview was taking place, two Jewish men from New York City, in Cincinnati on a business day trip, wanted to dine before heading to the airport. They wanted kosher. They wanted good food. Also, they wanted anonymity.
“We asked and were told about Kinneret Grill, and since we had a long afternoon and evening ahead of us, we came here to eat (before heading for the airport),” said one of the men. “It was a good decision; the food is delicious and just what we wanted. The Jewish community here should be very pleased to have this available to them. We travel a lot, and even some larger cities often do not have kosher options available. So, we feel fortunate.”
See you at Kinneret Grill!
4068 E Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45236