This piece was first published as “Don’t knock British bubbes’ diner” in The Times of Israel.
They say all publicity is good publicity, but one regular customer of the Oslo Court restaurant in North West London doesn’t see it that way. The customer, unhappy with Jewish references made by Times of London critic Giles Coren in a column he wrote about Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha’s recent dinner date at the establishment, has reported him to the Press Complaints Commission.
Although Coren’s entire column is not readily accessible online, it’s not hard to tell from the one available excerpt that the outspoken Coren strongly questioned the Camerons’ taste in dining spots. “Oh God, no! Not Oslo Court! Dave, Dave, Dave. If you want… you only have to ask!” Because Oslo Court is the last place I would have suggested,” he wrote, addressing the prime minister directly.
The Jewish Chronicle printed some parts of the column the complainant, Peter Eden, found offensive. “Oslo Court, as you will almost certainly not know unless you are an elderly Jew from north London, is a restaurant in north London very popular with elderly Jews on account of its warm central heating, thick carpet and food that has not changed in 40 years,” wrote Coren, who is himself of Jewish background.
“In North London, we think of Oslo Court as a hidden treasure. And we tend to think, ‘Better, like poor Anne Frank, it should have stayed hidden,’” he caustically remarked with a bit of Holocaust humor. Eden, it should be noted, is a Holocaust survivor.
In his complaint, Eden charged that Coren “mentioned the Jewish religion 12 times — Oslo Court has never been a Jewish restaurant, nor are the residents or clientele predominantly Jewish.”
This assertion varies greatly with what just about everyone else says about the place—mainly that it is a hangout for Jewish pensioners. Eden appears to be unaware that it is precisely the Oslo Court’s retro vibe and geriatric Jewish scene that keeps customers coming back.
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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.