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From the Jan. 4 Baltimore Sun.
From the Jan. 4 Baltimore Sun.

On Dec. 28, Sun restaurant critic Richard Gorelick, who used to write for City Paper, reviewed the new kosher Pikesville steakhouse Serengeti. At the end of the glowing review, Gorelick (who, disclosure, I see in the hallways sometimes and play the occasional online Scrabble game with), noted how welcoming the place was to nonreligious Jews, presumably like him:

"Let's face it, Jews don't share spaces so nicely with each other all the time. There can be bristling when secular and observant Jews meet. But I felt very welcome at Serengeti, and what I liked best about this unique restaurant is how nicely and subtly Serengeti accomodates all of its guests. Serengeti is a very good restaurant that happens to be kosher."

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We're guessing some didn't take kindly to Gorelick's words, since his Jan. 4 review of Bookmakers included an apology:

"In last Sunday's dining review, I included a statement that attempted to underscore the point that Serengeti Steakhouse provides a welcoming environment for all diners. But it was gratuitous and flippant, and gave offense. It did not meet the Sun's editorial standards and should not have been included. The Sun - and I - apologize."

As a not-so-observant Jew who has been to kosher restaurants many times, I can attest that Gorelick's initial observation is generally accurate: If you don't look like an Orthodox Jew (wearing a kippah, modest dress for women, etc.), you will likely attract attention at a kosher restaurant—not necessarily negative attention, but a lot of stares and glances.

In the fall, before the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, I took my young sons to the pop-up Sukkah Depot shop on Reisterstown Road, where observant Jews go before the holiday to buy the temporary structures that they eat in and sometimes sleep in during the eight-day holiday. We went on a whim—we were all wearing flip-flops and shorts—and when we walked into the bustling place, people looked at us like we had nine heads—each! Many of the people there were actually very friendly and answered questions we had, but, suffice it to say, we stood out.

And so, I appreciated Gorelick's observation that Serengeti was especially welcoming and I'm guessing most nonobservant Jews and non-Jews who have been to kosher restaurants appreciated it to. He has nothing to apologize for.

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