August Roundup – latest changes to the Israeli culinary scene

As the restaurant scene in Israel is so dynamic, I thought it would be helpful to start writing updates on recent openings and closings.  The focus will be on my hometown Jerusalem, but I will also include other news from the last few months.

Jerusalem Openings 

  1. Urban Café (Mehadrin) – a small dairy chef cafe near the shuk with elevated salads, sandwiches and pizzas.  The ingredients are fresh and the menu is creative.  I loved the tuna melt and their brownies and cookies look delicious.
  2. Bakshish (Kosher) – the sous-chef from Jacko’s Street has opened a tapas and cocktail bar in the old Jacko’s Street location.  Very much a bar with food, the decor is beautiful, the bar is very well stocked and the tapas dishes are nicely presented and executed.  Mostly an Israeli crowd, but it is good to have a fancy bar in the shuk area.

    Roast Beef Bruschetta @Bakshish

  3. Ofaimme (Kosher) – Ofaimme Farm has opened a second branch in Beit Hansen serving organic farm to table produce with a focus on cheese and pastries. There is also a shop attached to buy produce to take home.

    משק עפאים – הבורקאסון. צילום: @asafkarela

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  4. Rachel ba Sdera (Kosher) – thanks to Rachel from MasterChef, Jerusalem finally has its own Boulevard cafe on Sderot Ben Maimon in Rehavia.  The small kiosk sells salads, sandwiches and drinks.
  5. Amster Bar (Mehadrin) – Dutch style chips/fries in the shuk (Rehov Haegoz) with loads of interesting sauces including chocolate, peanut butter and alfredo. They also have sausages and a large selection of beers.
  6. Hatch – a craft beer taproom with artisanal sausages which is directly opposite Amster Bar (where Steam used to be). Not been myself but reports so far have been very good.
  7. Hamotzi (Kosher)– moved location and is now on Rehov Yafo, right next to the entrance to the closed shuk.  The location is much bigger with an upstairs gallery and lots of tables outside.

Crispy desserts from Hamotzi opening party

Tel Aviv Openings 

  1. Kukuriku (Not Kosher)– Chef Ran Shmueli of Claro fame, has opened a rotisserie chicken stall in Sarona market.
  2. Calypso (Not Kosher) – Tel Aviv finally has a chef restaurant on the beach, thanks to Omer Miller of HaShulchan and Susu & Sons.  The traditional seafood tavern on Frishman Beach is open day and night.

יום שבת, חביבי, אתה לא מפחיד אותנו #calypso_beach

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Closings

  1. Fish and Chips by Fauchon in Sarona Market has closed down – the setting and concept never seemed to work.  It will be interesting to see what opens instead in such a prime position. Netachim inside Sarona Market has also closed but Fleishman Deli is still their sandwiches are delicious.
  2. Crubis and Tahrir in the Jerusalem shuk have both closed down, leaving two more stalls for new places to open in.

Coming Soon

Chef Aviv Moshe, one of Israel’s best chefs, is opening a bar and restaurant on the corner of Beit Yaakov and Agripas called Valero. He is most well known for his restaurants Messa and Quattro in Tel Aviv so I am excited to see what the concept will be for this new venture in Jerusalem.

My Recent Reviews

  1. La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk
  2. Hotel Review: Ultimate Urban Style at Ultra
  3. Jacko’s Street: A Winning Combination
  4. Les Jumelles – A new French Café near Abu Ghosh

Let me know if you like this style of posts and if there is anything else i should include in the future.

La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk

Breakfast and More Morning to Night

Street food options in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market are plentiful, with new places opening up all the time. But for those of us who sometimes prefer to sit in a proper café and enjoy an indulgent brunch, the options are more limited. Luckily, La Padella has changed that.

The restaurant has a diverse menu that includes more than 10 types of breakfast, as well as an interesting selection of sandwiches, salads, rich main courses and decadent desserts. Located in the space where Café Mizrachi once stood, La Padella has quickly become popular with both locals and groups touring the shuk (it can seat up to 25 people at a long table).

As with many places in the shuk, at night La Padella turns into a bar with a less than standard wine and cocktail menu and a well-stocked bar. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of Psagot White Seven (NIS 30/glass and NIS 95/bottle) with our meal but hope to go back soon to try the cocktails.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

French breakfast

Mac & Cheese

Cheesy Fries

La Padella, +972(0)2 624 2105, Kosher Mehadrin

Foodie score 7/10, FODMAP friendly score 7.5/10

The Best Jerusalem Pick Up Bars – Take Two

Of all the information on this blog, the most read post by a long way is one I wrote in 2011 about The Best Jerusalem Pick Up Bars (mostly via the search term ‘pick up girls jerusalem’).  Since two of the bars mentioned have now closed, I decided it was about time that I wrote a new post.

Mirror Bar

Mirror Bar

Mirror Bar in the Mamilla Hotel, which appears in my original post, is still one of the most stylish bars in Jerusalem.  During the week it is a quiet hotel bar, popular for dates and groups of friends, but on a Thursday night it gets much busier and often has groups of men and woman looking to be sociable.

The ultimate Jerusalem pick-up bar is Dublin Irish Pub in the city center. There is always great music and a fun atmosphere – I just wish they would serve better wine!

On both Thursday and Friday night the bar is full of local Jerusalemites and ex-pats looking for a fun night out.  The age-range is typically 28+ and although there is a non-smoking room at the side, the action is in the main bar so be prepared to leave stinking of smoke from head to toe!

If you are looking for more of a club atmosphere then Toy Bar is the place to be.  The upstairs bar is always busy at the weekend and typically with a slightly younger crowd, although it is suitable for all ages.  In peak times, the action overflows to the club downstairs doubling the fun.

Other popular Jerusalem bars are Monaco Bar, which attracts mostly students but always seems to be busy; Haschena, which is a local hipster bar near the shuk but can have a party scene on a Thursday night and Yudale Bar (the little sister to popular restaurant Machneyuda), a fun restaurant/bar most nights of the week but the action overflows onto the street on the warmer months and even on some colder weekend nights.

Botanika cocktail bar brings Swedish style to Tel Aviv.

In the last few years, Israel has been hit by the cocktail craze, with cocktails bars opening up all over the country, with Tel Aviv at the epicenter. Although each bar varies slightly in its décor and style of drinks, many are located in boutique hotels and have a strong emphasis on the presentation of the drinks, sometimes to the detriment of the taste.

Both the beverage and the food menu at Botanika in Tel Aviv are simple and elegant, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and clean flavors with a subtle Scandinavian influence.

Click here for the full review  of Botanka in The Jerusalem Post

Botanika is located in the Ultra Hotel, for a full review of the hotel, click here.

Botanika (Credit Dana Caspi)

Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8.5/10

Getting Steamy in the Shuk

UPDATE: March 2017 – Steam is currently closed until further notice.

Over the last few months, new eateries have popped up in and around the Jerusalem shuk, so it is sometimes hard to keep a track of them all. One of these new places is Steam Kitchen and Bar, owned by a young US oleh, Chananya Rosenthal.  As a lover of fast food, Chananya has planned to open a place in the shuk for some time and was lucky when a small shop became available on Rehov Haegoz (up from Fishnchips and opposite Shuka Bar).  This strip is particularly busy at night when the fresh food stalls close and the bars and restaurants take over.

According to the Steam Facebook page, they serve steamed buns filled with classic American sandwiches but Chananya recently decided to change to classic Israeli fillings for his steamed buns.  I’ll be honest, I was disappointed as I was looking forward to a Reuben, kosher BLT and quails eggs that others had raved about.

For now the menu is very limited, soup of the day to start, shawarma or pargit steam bun sandwiches (NIS 27) or schnitzel salad (NIS 30) with steam bun croutons. Steam’s selling point is that all the ingredients in their sandwiches are high quality and homemade – which I am in favor of, but I didn’t taste enough of a difference to make me want to come back to Steam, rather than going to my favorite local shuk guy across the street to get a huge laffa for around the same price.  There is no doubt that the quality of the steam buns served are great.  The dough is made fresh every day and they steam the buns to order, but in my opinion, they need to create a menu that differentiates themselves more clearly from that which is on offer around them, in order to attract customers who have so many delicious places to choose from.

Now let’s talk cocktails, because to me, that is Steam’s USP (Unique Selling Point) and something which will have me going back for more.  The popularity of cocktails is growing at a rapid pace in Israel, with new cocktail bars opening up all over the place and restaurants have also caught onto the trend and are improving their cocktail menus. However, until recently, you couldn’t get real cocktails in the shuk itself – well you can now!  The Steam cocktail menu features 10 fairly classic cocktails, all for NIS 37, and lovingly prepared using high quality ingredients.  The simple Gin and Tonic uses Bombay Sapphire gin with Fever Tree tonic – a must for any true G&T lover but very rare to find in the shuk, let alone most restaurants in Jerusalem.  The Bourbon Lager with Jack Daniels, Drambuie, lemon juice and lager is a great cocktail for anyone averse to sweet drinks. The Sweet Arak is a delicious mix of arak, lemon juice, dry martini and mango syrup but what makes the drink are the caramelized lemon wedge and burnt star anise served on-top.  I found it a tad too sweet but I will definitely try it again and request less mango syrup.  They also have a selection of beers from Moscow Microbrewery near Bet Shemesh.  The best news is that Steam run a happy hour from 3-7pm with buy one get one free on cocktails per person.

Steam is still in the development stages and I really hope that they manage to find their niche in an increasingly competitive market but one thing is for sure, Chananya has a real passion for what he does and his aim is to serve Jerusalemites with food that they enjoy and makes them happy.

He is open for both lunch and dinner and although there is currently no hechsher, he is planning to get Hashgacha Pratit.

FODMAP friendly score 2/10, Foodie score 6/10.

Modern dining in classic surroundings

The historic building that houses the 1868 restaurant has recently been redecorated to be more in line with the contemporary style of the cuisine. Chef and owner Yankale Turjeman is a native Jerusalemite and previously worked as head chef of the former 1868 dairy restaurant and at Kadosh. Having spent a few years working in London, he returned to Jerusalem to run 1868, bringing European style and finesse to the menu.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

A little cocktail bar with a big punch

Charcuterie and Cocktail at Zuta

Cocktail bars are popping up all over Tel Aviv, but until recently Jerusalemites struggled to find a good cocktail, and it was even harder to find a nice bar with good kosher food.

Zuta solves both these problems in one.

The bar itself is at the back of 1868 restaurant, owned and run by chef Yankale Turjeman. You can either access it through the main restaurant or from the courtyard behind the restaurant. For now the bar is limited to a few small tables and seats around the bar, but as the Jerusalem nights finally warm up, there will also be some outside seating. My summation of the bar is simplicity; the décor is simple but charming, the ambiance is relaxed, and the food and cocktails are based on high-quality ingredients, without pomp or circumstance.

Click here for the full review of Zuta at 1868 in The Jerusalem Post.

Great bar. Great atmosphere. Great Gatsby.

Crossroad (Credit:Kobi Charbit)

Growing up in London, my favorite bars to visit were those housed in old basement casinos or cabaret clubs. The entrance was always on a small dark street, away from the main thoroughfare, and only as you descended the staircase into the underworld of London, did the magic reveal itself.

Although the entrance to Gatsby Cocktail Room does not include a grand staircase descending into the depths of Jerusalem’s nightlife, the talented owners and interior designers have managed to create an entrance that evokes a similar magic and takes you back in time to the days of speakeasies and cabaret. As the name suggests, this is a 1920’s themed cocktail bar and lounge, where the bar staff making the cocktails is as much part of the fun as the drinking is. They do have other drinks on the menu, but the main attraction is the impressive selection of imaginative cocktails.

Click here for the full review of Gatsby in The Jerusalem Post.