Celebrity chef Eric Greenspan owns many accolades. He was trained in Paris and defeated Bobby Flay on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. He starred in his own TV show on National Geographic called Eric Greenspan Is Hungry, and has co-owned and served as executive chef at numerous restaurants around Los Angeles including Maré (a seafood restaurant in Silverlake), Erven (a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica), and The Roof on Wilshire (an American restaurant in Mid-Wilshire).
Now, he’s going back to his roots.
Fleishik’s (which means “meat” in Yiddish) is a Jewish deli revival filled with all the traditional favorites like kugel, pastrami, brisket, tzimmis, chicken soup, kreplach, schnitzel, pickles, and kasha. However, it’s not exactly the food of his Ashkenazi grandparents’ Shabbat dinner table.
“When the family gathered, there were briskets, kugel, and chicken soup,” Greenspan said. “We’re going for a new twist on these. Our kasha is a pasta salad. Our tzimmis is cole slaw. Our kugel is deep fried and cut up into cubes. I wanted to add an interesting take on Jewish foods.”
Fleishik’s is kosher certified by the Rabbinical Council of California, meaning that there are no treyf foods in the restaurant nor dairy products; it’s supervised by a mashgiach and is also closed on the Sabbath and major Jewish holidays.
This is Greenspan’s first dive into the world of kosher dining, and it’s brought him closer to Jewish practice. He leads a secular life and ate non-kosher food outside of his house while growing up in L.A. “So far, I’ve learned the washing rituals for bread, and I’ve been doing tefillin,” he said.
Fleishik’s, which is co-owned by Midcourse Hospitality Group as well as two observant Jews, Avi Heyman and Daniel Uretsky, offers a variety of sandwiches and sides. The “Bubbe” sandwich, Fleishik’s most popular item, with brisket, arugula, crispy chicken skin gribnis, beet horseradish, and crispy onions.
Other sandwiches include the “Zayde,” which comes with grilled salami, house made pickles, caramelized onions and deli mustard, the “Hot Mess,” which is comprised of pastrami, 1001 island dressing, an onion ring and jalapeno tomato relish; and the “Seder Plate,” which comes with smoked turkey, cranberry walnut charoset, fried egg, romaine, and horseradish. Fleishik’s also offers sandwiches filled with beef fry, smoked salmon, falafel, rotisserie lamb, chicken schnitzel, and grilled chicken, separately. Customers have the choice of ordering challah, white, wheat, or gluten-free bread. Greenspan said he’s currently looking for a rye bread supplier.
The sides on the menu include kasha salad, tzimmis slaw, kugel bites and fried pickles. There’s also the chicken soup with a crispy kreplach garnish and sufganiyot doughnut holes for dessert. The Dr. Brown’s cream soda, root beer and ginger ale varieties are available, along with various whiskeys, tequila, wine, beer and an almond milk egg cream.
Greenspan said that with Fleishik’s, he has proudly reached Jews and non-Jews alike. “Anytime you do something that brings different communities together that don’t normally coexist is a beautiful thing. When Jews and gentiles enjoy the same experiences, it can only create dialogue and understanding. It’s great.”
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Kylie Ora Lobell is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who’s been published in The Jewish Journal, Time Out New York & L.A., xoJane, Dell’s Tech Page One blog, and NewsCred.