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February 28, 2012 10:24 am

Prime Butcher Offers Fine Dining – At Home

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Fine cuts of meat displayed in the sparkling show cases of New York's newest purveyor of fine kosher foods, Prime Butcher Baker. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

When Joey Allaham left his family’s ancestral home in Syria, few could have predicted the dramatic difference this young entrepreneur would make on the kosher culinary scene.  In less than a decade, he has significantly changed expectations about kosher dining.  With the launch of Prime Butcher Bakery, his new retail location, at-home diners can enjoy the same fine meats offered at his fine kosher dining rooms.

Trained as a butcher in his native Syria, the 36 year old Allaham is the spirit behind enhanced expectations in kosher dining out; he now offers diners the same quality for at home preparation.  He is the developer of Prime Grill, Solo and Prime KO, three of Manhattan’s most upscale kosher dining establishments.

The arrival of Allaham’s Prime Butcher Bakery on the Upper East Side of New York adds another resource to the neighborhood’s growing kosher food inventory.  Within two blocks, there are five (maybe more) kosher restaurants and dessert locations. Across the street and three blocks north, at the venerable Park East Butcher – the Upper East Side’s “prime purveyor” of kosher meat for generations – the new comer’s arrival has been taken graciously. Michael Kane, the third generation owner, told the New York Times. “He should exist. We should exist. We don’t have a dislike for anybody. It’s not how we conduct ourselves as Jews.”

“In our religion, in Judaism,”Kane told the Times, “we believe that our livelihood comes from God.” [Prime Butcher] will only make this a more appealing area to shop.” “We wish them mazel and hope they wish us the same.”

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Souad Nigre brings the tastes of the Middle East to the Upper East Side. The Lebanese born Chief aids a wide variety of delicacies to the menu at Prime. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

The glowing wood floors of the softly lit, 3,000-square-foot shop presents an inviting setting for relaxed food shopping.  Both the shop and its products are at the upper end of any measuring scale:  all meat is dry-aged USDA Prime specialty cuts, dried in-house.To ensure absolute kashrut of all its products, Prime has a mashgiach tamedi (kosher supervisor) on premises at all times.  Jerusalem based Yeddiel Skolnik, a graduate of Yeshivat Mercav haRav, makes sure all kosher regulations are upheld.

The front window is actually a glass walled, temperature and humidity controlled case for aging steaks and other meats. Beyond that are counters for fish, shelves full of gourmet groceries and cases of fine meats, including kosher wagyu and organic beef. A wall long set of freezers is filled with Lebanese stuffed vine leaves, flatbreads, kibbe and meat pies, along with soups, quiches, knishes, kugel, ready-to-cook sliders with various seasonings, and scores of other dishes. The bakery in the rear of the store offers cheesecakes made with tofu. A variety of other parve (non-dairy) cakes, cookies, eclairs and muffins, all available to take home.

The Upper East Side shop specializes in dry-aged meats and parve baked goods; David Kolotkin, the well known chief of Prime Grill will also offer prepared foods “with both Ashkenazi & Sephardic flavor profiles” to take away.

The magic of Prime is not limited to food for the home table.  When the last customer exits, a bit of magic – $3000 worth, actually – can occur.  Well informed rumor has it that proprietor Joey Allaham will host a “Chef’s Table” for a maximum of twelve people.  Come hungry – the entire inventory of the establishment is there to choose from, complete with unlimited wine.

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