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The Anglo-Judaic Coffeehouse

Years ago a British friend and I had a pipe dream about opening a restaurant together that would encompass our own food peccadilloes and ethnic slants and that of the general eating (and paying) public. We would bill it "The Anglo-Judaic Coffeehouse" in acknowledgement of our ethnic heritages.

We deduced, through the course of our talks, that Montreal was the city to most certainly exploit such a novel eatery. Where else were there so many groups of very different cultures held together by a common love of good food and a tolerance of intolerably cold weather. The funny thing was (as if the whole concept of the Anglo Judaic Coffeehouse was not sufficiently offbeat) was that most dishes in my culture were reflected in hers and right across the cultural smorgasbord, so to speak.

For instance if we worked it right, we figured, Friday evening's "Lancashire Hotpot" a fragrant, long-simmering stew could be featured the next day as something entirely different. The addition of a few beans would turn it into "Cholent", the traditional Jewish Sabbath hearty beef and bean dish. By Sunday night the table d'hote could be re-christened (after a wee bit more simmering and a judicious addition of herbs) "Cassoulet" or "Pot au Feu" depending on the origins of our Gallic patrons. By this time, with any mercy, the stew would be long gone and we could start all over again with say, a chicken dish. Mondays, garnished with dumplings for the Brits, then revamped with matzoh balls for Tuesday's special, and spritzed with house wine to make Coq au Vin" by Wednesdays, our "one-dish-serves-all-ethnic-taste-buds" approach would soon win over hoards of skeptics.

Once we were well established, we envisioned branching out beyond Anglo-Judaic cultures and offering the wealth of many, many more possibilities. The good word would travel and soon restaurant critics throughout the land would visit us - and write rave reviews on both our exquisite and eclectic cuisine, as well as praise our efforts to further inter-cultural cooperation. Expansion would see the Anglo-Judaic Coffeehouse become the multi-ethnic, inter-cultural experience. Our "Tri-Ethnic" Appetizer Special could feature a globally inspired plate of one egg roll, one knish, and a souvlaki stick all for $1.99 (at lunch hour). Alternately, people could try our Any Vegetarian offering: a wedge of noodle kugel or dainty cheese blintz, pasta primavera, and a small Yorkshire pudding.

Our establishment would soon become recognized as the place for interfaith holiday celebrations - most ambient locale for intermarried couples to take their in-laws. When the calendar deemed it made sense, we could put up the holiday banners: "Celebrate Christmas and Chanukah With the Families. Ask About our Special Group Rates".

Perhaps it is an idea ahead of its time but my friend and I still spend the odd conversation creating the restaurant of our imagination. We discuss menus (should the complimentary rolls be bagels, baguettes, or hot cross buns) decor (non-denominational, of course) and the wonderful fun we would have breaking bread, and all the rules, at the Anglo-Judaic Coffeehouse.

Marcy Goldman

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