Every Friday at 7 p.m., something special happens. People gather from near and far, in hunger and excitement, to wine, dine and pray with Shmuly and his family. Shmuly Rubin and his wife Laiky cook with their hearts and their souls to complement Friday services. As for the experience as a whole, you can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy for at least some amount of time. Shmuly and his family are invariably effusive and welcoming.
Services usually last about 20 minutes and after its time to eat. But, traditionally during services wine is sipped and challah is engulfed. And let me tell you something: Shmuly’s challah doesn’t play around. Fluffy as a cloud, the challah alone is a reason to come to Shmuly’s. Dip it in their homemade olive tapenade or hummus for an enhanced experience. The tapenade has a sharp kick to it that ignites the pallet and the hummus is smooth and rich. Right when the initial services end, Matzo ball soup is served. Shmuly offers a great rendition of the classic recipe, with light and airy Matzo balls, carrots and celery. It’s a great dish that warms the stomach as well as the heart.
Every Friday Shmuly switches the main course items up a bit, but they always have some kind of chicken dish, salad and vegetable combination. The breaded and grilled chicken is usually tender and compliments the rest of the meal very well. Last week, chicken schnitzel was served and it was fried golden brown and delicious. The salads are always dynamite. With exotic fruits like mango or pomegranates thrown in, they’re almost always a pleasant surprise. Also the dressing is almost always addicting. My particular favorite that is often dished out is the sweet onion vinaigrette. Now that makes a great salad. The vegetable dishes are more variable. The crunchy broccoli and tender string beans is usually made with some kind of garlic sauce. The potatoes are soft and well seasoned.
Another important thing to note is that it’s completely free for Union students. So I know what you’re doing next Friday night: going to 225 Seward Place for a great time.