Café 65 offers a relaxing business lunch in a tranquil setting

Business lunches are a great way to try high-end restaurants at a reduced price and are also a good opportunity for a working lunch. I have tried business lunches in a number of places in Tel Aviv, so I was excited to see how the lunch at Café 65 compared.

Café 65 is situated in the 65 Hotel, part of the Atlas Hotel chain, located at 65 Rothschild Boulevard. The café is in the hotel lobby, and there is a spacious patio overlooking the street. Although this is a busy area, sitting in the café was lovely and quiet, and the tables were spaced far enough apart to allow for private conversations.

As with many business lunches, the price of the main course included a starter and a soft drink. A colleague was my dining companion, and we have been to a number of business lunches in the area together. We both that the lunch at Café 65 was better value and higher quality than others we had tried recently. We appreciated that all the starters on the menu were included in the price of the lunch, unlike some places where they try to upsell you with starters that incur an extra cost. In addition to the eight main courses on the menu, there were three chef specials, which all sounded wonderful, but we both opted for dishes from the set menu.
Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post 

NOTE: Even though the main menu is just dairy, Cafe 65 is not kosher and they sometimes serve seafood specials.

Salmon Fillet Cafe 65 Credit Yonathan Ben Haim

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Debbest: Quick Bites in Sarona Market

The great thing about Sarona Market is that you have the choice of so many tasty places under one roof.  Even if you cannot all agree on what you want to eat, each person can get what they want and sit on the shared tables in the middle.

Another fun option is to eat each course at a different place like pizza to start, sushi for main course and doughnuts for dessert.  Here is my guide to quick bites in Sarona Market.

  1. VIA Rustico

The pizza at VIA Rustico has a perfect crispy base and a range of delicious toppings.  The pizza is sold by the weight and there is no minimum so it a perfect option for a quick snack or a starter before moving onto main course elsewhere. Interesting toppings include eggplant melanzaneh or zucchini with spicy parsley sauce.

They also recently expanded their menu to offer lasagna and soup for winter and have some very good lunch meal deals.

  1. Ze sushi

Ze Sushi has a large rectangular bar in the center of the market, with comfortable seating all around.  As well as traditional sushi options, they also have a selection of noodles and soups and sushi platters for takeaway.  All sushi is made to order so you know it is fresh.

  1. Marinado

For an indulgent meat feast, Marinado is a great option.  All the meat is from their own farm in the Golan and it is expertly cooked to order. The menu includes burgers, meat sandwiches and steaks.  All dishes are cooked to honor the quality of the meat, with simple seasoning and side dishes but the sandwiches are better than the steaks.

  1. Yildiz

Yildiz from chef Aviv Moshe brings Turkish street food to Sarona Market.  The simple menu revolves around beef kebabs made with entrecote and pistachios. The kebabs are served in a laffa wrap, on a plate with a variety of fresh salads,  crumbled onto hummus, or inside a bureka.  Other Turkish dishes include lahmajoun, chicken liver cigar and pullet chicken shawarma style. The simple Turkish Sheikh kebab is NIS 41 in laffa or 47 on a plate.

  1. Chicho

One of the newest openings in the market is Chicho, a Moroccan food bar specializing in meatball sandwiches. The chain started with a kosher place in Haifa and the food is prepared in a central kosher kitchen but the Sarona branch is open on Shabbat. The lunch deal is NIS 38 for a medium meatball sandwich or NIS 45 for a large (about 6 meatballs!) and comes with a side salad, olives and a flavored soda. The meatball options include beef, lamb, fish, vegetarian or vegan. The pita bread is amazingly fresh and there is a spelt option.

  1. Mexicana Mercado

A fairly new addition to Sarona Market, Mexicana Mercado is a branch of the popular Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant with two other branches in Tel Aviv. The varied menu includes burritos, burrito bowls and tacos with traditional fillings including chicken, beef, chili con carne, chorizo, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

Update – they were recently closed down for food poising 80 people – they have now reopened but be warned!

עמית והטאקוס. מקסיקנה מרקדו שרונה מרקט.

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  1. Kukuriku

One of the most appealing things about Kukuriku is watching the golden chickens turning on the spits as they cook.  Chef Ran Shmueli’s stand sells chicken platters and sandwiches, with a selection of sauces and roasted vegetables.

  1. Captain Curry by Yonathan Roshfeld

Chef Yonathan Roshfeld left the world of fine dining at Herbert Samuel (apparently not by choice) and is now focusing on Indian food with Captain Curry. Dishes on the menu include chicken tandoori, sweet potato curry, lamb and chicken biryani and Bombay shrimps – full English menu here.

The Sarona Market branch was so successful that he also opened one on Dizengoff a few months later and they also deliver in Tel Aviv.

  1. HIRO Ramen Bar

Chef Aharoni is known for his love of Asian food and HIRO Ramen Bar is a perfect homage to that passion.  The menu includes various options of chicken, beef or silken tofu ramen, as well as steamed buns, chicken wings, gyoza and various salads.

  1. Ikar H’abriut

For those wanting a healthy alternative, this is a perfect option. The salad bar includes unlimited raw vegetables, as well as roasted vegetables, pasta, quinoa and mixed seeds.  The set price of NIS 35 includes one protein (egg, cheese or tuna) and each additional protein is NIS 3.

Moshe Segev also has Segev Concept in the market, which includes two different stands with street food options, and a third stand with just desserts.

Although there are several dessert options in the market, for me Gulis is the tastiest and the most unique.  Freshly made dough balls are drizzled with a choice of hot chocolate sauces and various other crunchy and sweet toppings. Perfect for sharing or as an indulgent dessert.

Deli Fleishman (Kosher) – this used to be one of the few kosher options in Sarona Market but they recently moved across the road to Derech Menachem Begin, but the sandwiches are so good, it is worth the extra 5 minute walk! Deli Fleishman has a choice of various smoked or grilled meat fillings, as well as some fish and vegetarian options, all orders include a side of pickles and a baked potato.  The sandwiches come with a selection of delicious fresh bread, including ciabatta, rustic sourdough or Moroccan Freneh, NIS 32 for the small and 42 for the large. My favorites are the Brooklyn Corn beef or the grilled Entrecote and the horseradish mayonnaise goes particularly well with both.

Here is a full list of all the food options in Sarona Market and you can read other posts about Sarona hereClick here to read more of Debbest.

November Foodie Roundup

November has been a busy foodie month, especially in Jerusalem where we enjoyed a week of incredible events thanks to the Open Restaurants festival – I will follow up with a specific post on all the great events I attended.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in the Golan and Hula Valley this month, so I have included notes on some places I ate at during my trip.  I will post full reviews of each place during the coming weeks.

Jerusalem 

Gabriel (Kosher) will close on December 12, after 12 years in business. In its place, the owner and chef Harvey Sandler will open Harvey’s Smokehouse in order to appeal to a broader and younger clientele. Until it closes, Gabriel will serve a special menu featuring its most popular dishes over the last 12 years.

Villa Brown (Hashgacha Pratit) – the courtyard of this new boutique hotel is the perfect setting for a relaxing brunch.  The brunch includes a delicious basket of fresh bread and pastries, served with homemade jam, a selection of interesting fresh salads with unlimited refills, a choice of five main dishes, including shakshuka, omelet and green vegetable stew, as well as hot and cold drinks.  The food was all delicious and the service was efficient and attentive.

Valero (Kosher) – even though when it first opened, Valero was not kosher, it recently closed to update the kitchen and has reopened under kosher supervision. The menu was crafted by Chef Aviv Moshe and the restaurant is run by his childhood friends.

DKL Bar (Not Kosher) – the Machneyuda Group has opened a new private bar aimed at over 30s (yeah).  Entrance is only to members with a magnetic access card and each member is limited to one guest.  The fully stocked bar serves a variety of wine and cocktails, as well as a bar-snack menu. Private members clubs are popular abroad, I wonder if this will be the beginning of a new trend in Israel.

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Resto French Kitchen (Kosher) has opened opposite the Fashion Mall on Ha’Hashmonaim in Tel Aviv.  Another French import, traditional dishes include Duck Rillette, Goose Liver Terrine and Beef Tartar prepared tableside. The service was wonderful and the setting is comfortable but relaxed.

Tartare de Saumon RESTO sur Hahahamonaim 105, TLV

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Yogurt by Anita (Dairy no hechsher) –  Anita Gelato has opened a new frozen yogurt and granola bar at Shabazi 44, around the corner from the main Anita Gelato store. Special toppings include artisanal granola, goji berries and other superfoods.  For now, there is a choice of cow or sheep milk yogurt but they are planning to add a vegan option.

את ANITA YOGURT בשבזי 44 כבר ביקרתם?

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North

The Setai – Sea of Galilee (Kosher) is a new luxury hotel on the east side of the Kinneret, 5 km north of Ein Gev.  Similar to the Beresheet hotel in Mizpe Ramon, all the rooms are cabins overlooking the Kinneret, with either a private plunge pool or a jacuzzi.  The hotel also has an indoor and outdoor pool and private beach.  We enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the hotel lounge, overlooking the Kinneret, with attentive service and a serene setting. There is also a meat restaurant in the hotel.

Beit Haugot (Mehadrin) – even though it was not warm enough to sit in the wonderful garden of this country café, the service was still warm and friendly and the food was fresh and tasty.  We also had the pleasure of trying their fresh Sfinj which were delicious – full review from a previous visit here.

Gilabun Farm (Kosher) – we loved our dinner at this easy-going country restaurant in the middle of the Golan.  It was recommended to me by Fun Joel Tours and was the perfect option for us, driving back from the Hula Valley into the Golan. The log fire and attentive, friendly service accompanied a tasty meal in a great ranch house setting.

Gillis Steak House (Kosher) – I had the joy of returning to Gillis Steak House in Moshav Nov. It was even better than I remember.  An updated review will follow but for now, here is my previous review.

South

Moshe Segev (Kosher) – Chef Moshe Segev has opened his first kosher restaurant in Beesheva. The chef already owns numerous successful non-kosher restaurants including Segev Art, Segev Concept and Segev Express.  He is planning to open a second kosher restaurant in Netanya in a few months and possibly others in the future. The menu includes various meat and fish dishes – full menu on the website.

Upcoming Events

The A-sham Arab Food Festival will take place again this year in Haifa, December 13 -15, showcasing Arab food from the Levant. The director of the event is Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel who won Master Chef Israel in 2014. More information will be available on the festival website.

Recent Posts

  1. Gourmandises by Yoel brings French gourmet to Jerusalem
  2. Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa
  3. Debbest: Kosher Sarona
  4. Debbest: Street Food in the Shuk
  5. Open Restaurants Returns to Jerusalem

 To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

Debbest: Kosher Sarona

One of the questions I get asked a lot is about kosher food in Sarona, so I thought it was time to write a post.

It is important to note that there is a high-turnover of restaurants and shops in Sarona, especially in the market. Most of the kosher places that were there when they first opened, no longer exist and I have seen places open and close within a few months (eg Eco Lima and Fish and Chips).  I will try to keep this updated but please take that into consideration.  If you want to be sure, feel free to message me or ask in the group Restaurant Club Israel.

I have not included exact locations as it is hard to do that but I will distinguish between Sarona Market, which is the indoor market area and Sarona which is the outdoor complex.

In order to provide as much information as possible, instead of creating my usual Debbest selection, I have divided the list into different categories and will also include some kosher places I do not recommend and specify why.

Kosher Restaurants

  1. Pita Basta (Rabbanut)

Pita Basta opened in April 2018, in place of Fleishman.  They currently have a branch in Ashdod and the menu has a number of interesting items.  I tried the Heavy Pita (NIS 34) which was grilled chicken liver, silan, lemon sauce, tahina and other delicious toppings. They also served a dessert Pita Loti (NIS 10), a crispy grilled pita with nutty chocolate and banana – sounds delicious!

  1. Whiskey Bar & Museum (Hashgacha Pratit)

Located in the basement of a Templar building, Whiskey Bar has walls lined with over 1000 types of whiskey, but it is still enjoyable for non-whiskey drinkers like myself. The setting and décor are very unique and there are plenty of large tables, so it is an ideal place for dinner with friends.

The Beef Carpaccio (NIS 52) and Liver Pate (NIS 52) are tasty starters and the Prime Rib (NIS 48/100g), Rib-Eye (NIS 147) and Lamb Chops (NIS 138) are succulent mains. Non-meat eaters will be happy with the Leaf Salad (NIS 46) or Mushroom Mix (NIS 48) to start and the Salmon Fillet (NIS 96) or Artichoke and Asparagus Gnocchi (NIS 86) for main-course. The Smoked Chocolate Mousse (NIS 42) with smoked whiskey is a shining favorite dessert.

  1. Kitchen by Greg (Badatz Mehadrin)

Although Kitchen by Greg is a chain and not fancy, it is a good mid-range kosher meat option in Sarona. The menu is varied, well priced and the setting is tranquil. I recently enjoyed a business lunch with a colleague, which included a starter (from a limited selection) for the price of the main course.  I had the Vegetable Antipasti, followed by the Country-style Salad with Chicken (NIS 52) which was fresh and tasty. My colleague had a rich Bean Soup and the Asian-style Salad (NIS 48), which she found filling and well cooked.  We also found the service to be particularly attentive and efficient.

Kitchen by Greg is a great place for a comfortable lunch or light dinner and in my opinion, it is a far better option than any of the dairy cafés in Sarona.  There are also plenty of vegetarian options for those that don’t want meat, here is a link to the full menu.

  1. Paradiso (Kosher)

Paradiso is a typical Israeli dairy café with the usual selection of breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, pizza, pasta and fish – basically, they do everything OK and nothing that well.

  1. Biga (Mehadrin)

When Sarona first opened, Biga was the only option for a kosher sit-down meal and the menu was interesting, the setting quaint and the service was what you expect from a mid-range café.  I am not sure what went wrong, but over the years it has got worse and worse and not only is the food not good, the service is terrible.

It takes a lot for me to walk out of a restaurant, especially when I am hungry.  Bad service can be excused but rudeness cannot. Despite this previous experience, I went back not long after, for a team lunch.  Out of a group of 8 people, we all left unhappy and frustrated, as a series of errors occurred and the staff was not only inefficient at dealing with the mistakes, they were also rude and unhelpful.  When the manager finally came over, she actually made it all worse and my colleague who had chosen the venue felt terrible. My advice would be to avoid Biga but some people seem to like it so I have included it here.

Ludens Express (Kosher) vegan restaurant has just opened in the Sarona complex, serving fresh salads and vegan burgers and sausages.

Kosher Shops and Snacks

As well as the restaurants mentioned above, there are also several places in Sarona Market for take away snacks and desserts.

  1. Boutique Central

This popular kosher bakery has a small stand in the market with pre-packaged goods.  Most of the Boutique Central products are dairy but they do make some parev cakes and macaroons.

  1. Paletas

Home-made healthy ice-lollies in a variety of flavors including vegan and sugar-free options. Unusual flavors of Paletas include Pistachio Malabi, Vietnamese Coffee, Mango Chili, Mexican Chocolate and Super Spirulina.

  1. Halva Kingdom

A branch of the popular Halva Kingdom in the Machaneh Yehudah shuk, the Sarona Market store also includes a sesame mill at the back so you can see the fresh tahina being made.

The store has a selection of around 100 flavors of halva and they will normally let you try before you buy.  My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they recently started selling pre-sealed jars of halva so it can be easily transported. They also sell various savory and sweet flavored-tahina – the chocolate tahina is delicious and makes a healthy alternative to chocolate spread.

  1. Le Boucher

Le Boucher is a well laid out, immaculately clean butcher with an impressive selection of meats, including veal schnitzel, asado and osso buco, as well as pre-made burgers and kebabs.

Kosher – no certificate

There are a number of places in Sarona Market which claim to use only kosher dairy or parev ingredients but as the stores are open on Shabbat, they do not have a kosher certificate.  While this is not an option for everybody, I am including this information for those who are happy with this distinction.

Included in this category are Gulis who make crispy dough balls which are drizzled with a choice of hot chocolate sauces and various other crunchy and sweet toppings. Perfect for sharing or as an indulgent dessert. Frost serves frozen yogurt with a tower of waffle cubes on top, drizzled with chocolate and covered with various sweet toppings. Other dessert options are cookies from Cookie Bucket, chocolates and cakes from Fauchon Paris and smoothies from Rebar.  All the pre-packaged chocolates at Max Brenner are kosher (with a hechsher) but the freshly made items are not.

For those wanting a healthy alternative, the fresh salad bar by Ikar H’abriut is a perfect option. The salad bar includes unlimited raw vegetables, as well as roasted vegetables, pasta, quinoa and mixed seeds.

Deli Fleishman (Kosher) used to be one of the few kosher options in Sarona Market but in Jan 2018 they moved across the road to 112 Derech Menachem Begin, so they are still officially in the Sarona area.  Deli Fleishman has a choice of various smoked or grilled meat fillings, as well as fish and vegetarian options.  The sandwiches are made from a choice of delicious fresh bread, including ciabatta, rustic sourdough or Moroccan Freneh. They charge NIS 32 for a small roll and NIS 42 for a large and all orders include a side of pickles and a baked potato. My favorites are the Brooklyn Corn Beef or the Grilled Entrecote and the horseradish mayonnaise goes particularly well with both. There are some bar seats available nearby or plenty of picnic benches in front and the sides of the market.

More posts about Sarona will follow soon, but for now, check out top ten quick bites in Sarona Market and don’t forget to follow this blog to receive automatic updates.

Click here to read more of Debbest.

Debbest: Street Food in the Shuk

Street food has been around for centuries but in the last few years it has become more popular the world over and Israel is no exception.  As the street food phenomenon has spread, new places have opened all over Israel but some of the best are in the Jerusalem shuk where you can now find a wide variety of interesting street food offerings including traditional dishes all over the world.

There are so many places to choose from but here are my top picks:

  1. Josef Burger

Even though other burger joints have opened in the area, Josef Burger is still my favorite. My preference is for the Angus Burger (NIS 45) which I find to be more tender and juicy than the house burger. They have a great choice of toppings and the service is normally quick and friendly. There is also a good business lunch deal for NIS 55 including a main, side dish and drink. My standard order is a medium Angus burger with goose breast and green salad and as a special treat, I will get goose liver and/or chlli pineapple.

Josef Burger (Kosher), 123 Agripas Street, 073 758 4219 – English menu.

Update – this post was written before Memphis Burger opened, which is now my joint favorite – 68 Agripas Street.

  1. Pasta Basta

The beauty of Pasta Basta is in the simplicity of the offering. First you choose your pasta, then a sauce and finally extra toppings, with the price starting at NIS 21.  The pasta is all freshly made on site and the sauces and toppings are equally fresh. My favorite choices are Gnocchi with butter and Parmesan sauce with extra zucchini (NIS 33) or Whole Wheat Fusilli with coconut curry sauce (NIS 24). They also serve soup, salad and wine from the barrel for NIS 16 a glass!

Pasta Basta (Hashgacha Pratit), 8 Hatut Street – English menu.

Keeping it simple #instafood #israelifoodie #streetfood @pastabasta_il #shuk

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  1. Dwiny Pita Bar

The concept at Dwiny is open or closed sandwiches so each dish can be ordered either inside a pillowy fresh pita, or on top of small toasted pita bruschetta style.  All the ingredients are fresh and interesting with fillings including seared entrecote, ossobuco, fried red mullet and crispy cauliflower.  My favorite dishes are the Entrecote pita (NIS 38) and the Lamb Siniya with tahina and pickled lemon (NIS 42).

Dwiny Pita Bar (Kosher), 6 Beit Ya’akov Street, 050 474 2428 – English menu.

  1. Fishenchips

As a Brit, nothing tastes quite like the real thing but Fishenchips is definitely the closest option I have had in Israel and it has already outlasted all its competition in the shuk.  The Mixed Crunchy Cod Goujons with chips (NIS 42) includes a mixture of batters and is probably the most popular dish but the Panko Red Tuna with chips (NIS 47) is also a delicious and interesting dish.

Fishenchips (Kosher- dairy/parev), 12 HaEgoz Street, 02 624 9503.

  1. Ishtabach

Since Ishtabach opened a few years ago, they have been so popular that they have already expanded twice, but they have managed to keep the intimacy of the service and atmosphere.  The specialty dish is Shamburak, a Kurdish Syrian pastry filled with meat and vegetables, baked in a stone oven and served with various homemade sauces and salads.  Fillings include Asian chicken (NIS 41), asado (NIS 45) and tongue (NIS 54) and there is also a vegetarian option and some salads on the menu.

Ishtabach (Mehadrin), 1 HaShikma Street, 02 623 2997 – English menu.

  1. Falafel Mullah

Everyone has their favorite falafel place, but my favorite is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you just want a snack, there is always the option for half a pita.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t. Falafel in pita is NIS 15 and in laffa is NIS 18.

Falafel Mullah (Kosher), 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov), 052 843 6476.

  1. Pizzeria Flora

Delicious authentic Italian pizza with a crispy base, doughy crust and high-quality ingredients.  Toppings include fresh mozzarella, Italian tomato sauce, rocket/arugula, parmesan, artichoke, egg and zucchini and prices start from NIS 44.  They also serve a great Blue Cheese Salad (NIS 33) with a tangy citrus vinaigrette.

Pizzeria Flora (Dairy – No Hechsher), 2 HaDekel Street, 02 622 2216.

זה החיים שלנו @preismansfoodphotography

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  1. Hatzot

This popular steakiah (meat grill) has a separate takeaway window along with street-side tables.  The extensive takeaway menu includes their famous Jerusalem mixed grill and my personal favorite, succulent pargit (NIS 54 in laffa), both with their secret spice mix. There is also a selection of salads and main courses in take-away containers, if you are extra hundry or don’t want bread.

Hatzot (Kosher), 121 Agripas Street, 073-7584204 – English menu.

  1. Jerusalem Steak House

For an authentic shawarma, Jerusalem Steak House is considered to be one of the best, with a good selection of fresh salads to go with it. Shawarma in pita is NIS 32 and in laffa is NIS 38 and they also do a half shawarma in either pita (NIS 18) or laffa (NIS 22).

Jerusalem Steak House (Mehadrin), 101 Agripas Street, 02 625 2745.

  1. HaChapuria

This popular Georgian bakery, specializes in Hachapuri, a selection of cheese filled breads.  My favorite is Acharuli (NIS 30 small, 35 large) which has a cracked egg on top, designed so you can break off the crispy crust and dip it into the cheese and egg center. They sell a variety of other Georgian pastries but the one with the egg on top is the most popular.

HaChapuria (Hashgacha Pratit) – 5 HaShikma Street (corner with HaEshkol).

Another place that deserves a special mention is is SushiYa, which is not technically in the shuk but is very close by and worth the extra walk.

The menu at SushiYa is limited and there is not much seating but the food is always incredibly fresh and well made.  The type of fish varies based on availability but they have all the standard sushi dishes and also serve a great poke bowl (and have done for years before they became so popular elsewhere).  The Fish bowl is NIS 35 and includes a mix of raw and cooked fish, with a selection of raw, cooked and pickled vegetables.  It is tasty, filling and great value.

SushiYa (Kosher) – 1 Trumpeldor Street (corner with Bezalel), 02 625 9055.

Fish bowl @sushiyabezalel. So tasty and filling #sushi #jerusalem #foodie #foodil

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There are so many other street food places that are worth visiting in the shuk, like Jachnun Bar for a Yemenite malawach, Argento for Argentinian empanadas or Pepito’s for arepas and Latin American sandwiches.

There are now also plenty of dessert options, including ice-cream at Mousseline, waffles at Soramelo, crepes at Sabayos or cinnamon buns at Urbun.

2014-01-08 22.13.07

Waffle at Soramelo

Click here to read more of Debbest.

October Foodie Roundup

As well as information about openings and closings, I have also included reviews of some newish places I have visited recently. There are also some great food and wine events coming up this month so make sure you read to the end.

Jerusalem 

Pergamon Restaurant – a new vegetarian restaurant on Horkanos in Jerusalem. The food is Mediterranean style and they also serve cocktails with a focus on Gin and Tonics.

Azza 40 closed down on Azza and will soon reopen as R&R Diner at 33 Yafo in the city center. It will be interesting to see if the style is the same and I wonder what will open on Azza instead. Any ideas?

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Resto French Kitchen (Kosher) has just opened next to the Fashion Mall on Ha’Hashmonaim in Tel Aviv.  Another French import, dishes include Salmon Tartar, Beef Tartar, Beef Bourguignon and Tarte Tatin.

Bar B Que (Kosher) is a new restaurant in Herzliya Pituach which is a great option for groups to share lots of dishes and platters. Our favorites were the chicken wings, Asado and the smoked pulled beef. Will definitely go back and try the burgers, here is the full menu. The service was efficient and friendly and there is spacious seating.

L’Aile ou la Cuisse (Kosher) in Tel Aviv is the sister of one with the same name in central Paris, with the exact same menu (full menu here). There are a few dishes that they are not always available (like Foie Gras Terrine and Veal Shnitzel) but otherwise, the menu is that of a typical French Rotisserie and we loved everything we had. The restaurant is well designed with a relaxed atmosphere and you can see into the kitchen to watch the chef perform his magic. The service was efficient and friendly and we all loved our food and the experience in general. They also have a business lunch from NIS 59.

Kitchen By Greg (Mehadrin) Sarona, Tel Aviv – although this place is not fancy, it is the only kosher meat cafe in Sarona (not including fast-food stands in the market). The menu is varied, it is well priced and the setting is peaceful. I enjoyed a business lunch with a colleague, which includes a free starter (from a limited selection) for the price of a main course.  I had the Vegetable Antipasti, followed by the Country-style Salad with Chicken (NIS 52) which was fresh and tasty. My colleague had a rich Bean Soup and the Asian-style Salad (NIS 48), which she found filling and well cooked.  Kitchen By Greg is a great place for a comfortable lunch or light dinner, here is a link to the full menu.

Taj Indian Restaurant (Kosher) Or Akiva – for those looking for a kosher Indian experience, this small restaurant near Caesaria seems to be a good option.  Click here for a full review in the Jerusalem Post.

Night Cookie (Dairy – No Hechsher) – Tel Aviv has a new late-night food delivery service, specializing in cookies fresh from the oven. Deliveries are Wednesday to Saturday 21:00-02:00 and include traditional cookie flavors, as well as more interesting Toffee Caramel and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate and Chili, as well as three vegan flavors. Cookies are NIS 8.50 each and delivery is free with a minimum order of NIS 30.

Upcoming Foodie Events

Round Tables by American Express, October 31- November 17, 2017. There are still tickets available for some of the events – more information here.

Mateh Yehudah Wine Festival, November 2-25, 2017. Special events will take place in various wineries all over the area every weekend in November, but the main event is the opening at Yad Hashmona Hotel.

Open Restaurants Jerusalem, November 14-18, 2017. This year the festival comprises 80 events, including some English food tours – more information here.

In other news

Asian American food blogger Mark Wiens of Migrationology documented his foodie tours of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Bethlehem, Ramla and Nazareth. The narration style is slightly over-enthusiastic (he reminds me of a cartoon character but I cannot work out which one) and everything he tries is “wow” but it interesting to see which places are included in these documentaries and there is a list of all the venues in the description section below each video so you don’t have to watch them.

October Posts

  1. Debbest: Tasting Tour of the Shuk
  2. Debbest: Shopping in the Shuk
  3. Debbest: Top Ten Kosher Restaurants in Israel
  4. Succot in the Holy City – 2017

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

Debbest: Tasting Tour of the Shuk

Although I am not a tour guide, I love showing visiting friends and family around the shuk area and sharing all its hidden treats. The following is a list of my top ten things to eat in and around Shuk Machane Yehuda.  It is too hard to list it in order of favorite, so instead, I have created a self-guided food tour of the shuk.

I learned recently that the shuk officially includes the row of shops which start on the corner of Agripas Street and Ki’ach Street so that is a great place to start (click here for a map).

  1. Potato Bureka @Burekas Ramla (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Like many traditional local foods, you will never get everyone to agree on their favorite version, but for me, these are without a doubt the best burekas I have ever tried.  Unlike the burekas you find in most bakeries around Israel that are made from puff pastry and come in different shapes, these Turkish burekas are made from filo pastry and all have a standard large sausage shape.   The tiny stall on this busy corner is an off-shoot of a bakery in Ramla and has a simple choice of potato, cheese or spinach.  The crunchy burekas can be eaten alone but I would recommend having it cut open and lined with hard-boiled egg, schug and tahina, for the ultimate comfort food delight.  My favorite is the Potato Bureka, but they are all delicious and are large enough to be a full meal.

Conveniently next door is my favorite juice bar in the city and trust me I have tried them all. Don’t be confused by the addresses, many of these places are tiny stalls which are part of the same building and this place is also very badly signed.

  1. Carrot & Ginger Juice or a Fresh Fruit Smoothie @Schutim (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Don’t let looks fool you, this shop might be small but they have a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables and the prices are much better than the juice places further inside the market.  I normally go for a spicy carrot and ginger juice or a fresh fruit smoothie.  The guys who own it are also really friendly and you will always get service with a smile!

Walk down two stores for the next stop.

  1. Chocolate Rogelach @Marzipan Bakery (Badatz) – 44 Agripas Street

Famous the world over for making the best chocolate rogelach, this Marzipan Bakery is always full of locals and tourists filling boxes of rogelach as soon as they come out the oven.  Although the bakery sells many other delicious goodies, including other flavors of rogelach, the original chocolate are the most popular.  The secret ingredient is the sticky sugar syrup that is poured over them as they come out the oven and this also helps them last longer. Not only do they freeze really well, they are also really tasty straight from the freezer.   Pick up a few as a snack as you walk around the shuk or save them for later.

Walk along the street and take a right into the covered shuk to the second store on the left.

  1. Moroccan Cigars and Spicy Carrot Salad @Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher) – 70 Etz HaChaim Street

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the crispiest Moroccan cigars and the best selection of take-away dips and salads in the city.  My personal choices are the Spicy Grated Carrot Salad and the Sweet Eggplant and Peanut Salad. I am also partial to their Schnitzel and Kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying takeout food on a Friday but be prepared to wait in line.

There is also a dairy deli diagonally opposite with a great selection of cheeses and there are other branches around the city.

Continue into the shuk, two doors up on the right.

  1. Sumac & Za’atar @Pereg Spices (Badatz) – 79 Etz HaChaim Street

The secret ingredient in many authentic middle-eastern dishes is usually the mix of spices so when tourists ask me for recommendations of things to take home with them, I normally suggest Sumac and Za’atar. Sumac is a wonderful slightly sour burgundy colored spice that can be used to season salads (especially Fattoush), grilled fish and meats. Za’atar is a mix of herbs and spices that typically includes ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, together with sesame seeds and sumac but can vary.  It can be sprinkled on white cheese, salads or used as a dip for bread.

Although the shuk is full of great spice shops, Pereg sells a particularly diverse selection and their pre-packaged jars travel well.  Other recommended products include shawarma spice, Sumsumiya (sesame, nut and honey spread) and a variety of rice seasoning mixes.

The next stop is diagonally opposite on the left.

  1. Coffee Halva & Chocolate Tahina @Halva Kingdom (Badatz) – 46 Etz HaChaim Street

Not many places in the shuk offer free tasters but Halva Kingdom always has someone standing outside their stores (there is a second one further inside the shuk) offering small squares of their Coffee Halva.  Tasting a sample is not an obligation to enter the store, they are used to passersby grabbing a morsel for a quick sugar fix.  The store has a selection of around 100 flavors of halva and they will normally let you try before you buy.  My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they just started selling pre-sealed jars so it can be easily transported.

They also sell various savory and sweet flavored tahina – the chocolate tahina is delicious and makes a healthy alternative to chocolate spread. I regularly take the halva and tahina as gifts for friends when I travel but make sure you pack it well so it doesn’t crack and leak all over your case (yes that happened!).

  1. Stinky Cheese @Basher Fromagerie – 53 Etz HaChaim Street

If cheese is your thing, then look no further than Basher Fromagerie for the best selection of cheeses in the country.  The Basher brothers are the main cheese importers in Israel and they stock cheese from all over the world that cannot be found in many places.  The friendly staff are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and always try to give you more than you want.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue, make sure you check.

Keep to the left side to the corner of Etz HaChaim and Ha’Afersek Street.

  1. Cortado Coffee @Roasters (Kosher) – 20 HaAfarsek Street

Coffee lovers will be glad to know that one of the best coffee shops in the city is in the middle of the shuk.  Roasters offers the traditional selection of coffees as well as some more unusual ones, like the Spanish Cortado, which is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of warm milk to dilute the acidity but still remaining a strong short coffee.  Summer specials include cold brew coffee and Affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso). There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee or freshly ground coffee to take home.

Cortado and cake @roasterscoffebar #foodieisrael #shuk #coffee

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Walk to the end of HaAfarsek, turn right onto Machane Yehuda Street (the open shuk).  Keep to the left and take the last turning on the left, HaTut Street, before you reach Agripas (ReBar will be on the left corner).  Walk straight ahead to the end of that street and the next stop will be facing you on the right.

  1. Rambam’s Milk @Uzi Eli Etrog Man (Kosher) – 10 HaEgoz Street

One of the more famous stands in the shuk is Uzi Eli – the Etrog Man.  Uzi is a Yemenite healer who sells various Etrog based products to cure aches and pains.  The shop also sells a variety of freshly made juices including Etrog Gat for energy and apple with ginger for a sore throat.  My favorite choice is the Rambam drink which is almond milk with dates and other goodies.  They will always let you try before you buy or you can go for a taster shot of each one for only five shekels each.

Head back out to Agripas Street and turn right heading down the hill.  Continue down crossing over 2 side street until you reach the third side street, Beit Yaakov.

  1. Falafel @Falafel Mullah (Kosher) – 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov)

A visit to the shuk wouldn’t be the same without falafel and the best store to get from is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff will offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you are already too full from all the grazing along the way, there is always the option for half a pitta.  Although some argue that Falafel HaAchim Levi at the entrance to the open shuk is better, I prefer Mullah and it is located on a quieter corner and you can sit and enjoy your falafel in peace.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t.

That concludes my tasting tour of the shuk.  I hope you found the information helpful and please let me know if you want any other information about eating around the shuk.

For more information about shops in the shuk – take a look at the official shuk website (although it is very out of date!) and a helpful map of the shuk by tour guide Fun Joel.

Click here to read more of Debbest.

September Foodie Roundup

I decided to write the August Roundup post as a way to easily update those who are often asking about new places opening or don’t know about places closing.  It was purely an experiment – but apparently a good one as in just a few days it became one of the most viewed posts on my blog and three different restaurant owners go in touch with me wanting to make sure I had the information I needed about their business.

So, it looks like this will become a regular feature and as always, I would be happy to hear feedback, but I cannot promise that I will follow it 😊.

Jerusalem News

JLM Local Sushi (Kosher) – the owners of 1868 have decided to close Marvin Wine & Food and replace it with a sushi restaurant. They officially opened this week with a fish and meat menu but vegan and vegetarian dishes are clearly marked – click here for the dinner menu. I am sure the food will be just as delicious and creative as the rest of the restaurants in the 1868 group (1868 review and Zuta Bar review).

Villa Brown (Hashgacha Pratit) – a boutique hotel from the Brown hotel group has opened on Ha’Neviim Street and includes Cave Bar, a cocktail and wine bar in the basement of the hotel.  Rumor has it that the hotel serves high-tea, I plan to visit soon and will report back.

Valero (Not Kosher) – new chef restaurant and bar from Chef Aviv Moshe (Messa & Quattro) on the corner of Agripas and Beit Yaakov has finally opened.  The name Valero is apparently the originally name for the shuk area. It is a soft opening with a trial menu and 20% off – click here for the menu in Hebrew. The place is beautifully decorated and well laid out and I hope the food is as good as his other restaurants!

Orient Jerusalem – Isrotel have finally opened a hotel in Jerusalem at the crossroads of Emek Refaim and Derech Bet Lechem.  The hotel has a dairy café in the lobby and buffet breakfast and dinner.  The food at the Isrotel Exclusive Collection hotels is normally excellent and reports so far have been very positive.

Urbun (Mehadrin) – Urban café near the shuk, which opened at the end of June, has changed its name to Urbun and will focus only on desserts and pastries.  People are raving about their Cinnamon Buns.

Babka @Urbun

Tel Aviv & Merkaz News

Bar B Que – Australian Grill (Kosher) – a new restaurant in Herzliya Pituach industrial area, focused all types of meat. The owner is Australian with South African origins so expect amazing flavors and sauces! The picture below says it all!

Cà Phê Hanoi (Kosher) – it may have been open for a few months already but this Vietnamese restaurant with a French and Israeli twist is definitely the hot ticket in town. If you can actually get through to make a booking, then apparently it is worth the wait, so far I have not been so lucky.  Apparently the service is hit or miss but the creativity of the food makes up for it.

Our version of love ❤

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Upcoming Foodie Events

Round Tables by American Express, October 31- November 17, 2017 – which includes Mona in Jerusalem and one kosher option at Hayakron 99 at the Dan Tel Aviv – full details here.  It is nearly sold out so book fast!

Maido Peru - Vegan Cheesecake

Maido Peru – Vegan Cheesecake

Open Restaurants Jerusalem – 14-18 November 2017 – some of the events are already listed on their website but the full schedule, including some events in English,  will only be up in early October and booking starts on October 15 so there is plenty of time to have a look and decide what you want to go to.  Here are my posts on Open Restaurants 2016 and a cocktail workshop I attended last year.

Coming Soon

Memphis Burger (Kosher) is planning to open a Jerusalem branch on Agripas after the chagim. Those who have been to the Tel Aviv branch, will know how exciting this news is.  Even though there are already a number of burgers places in that area and I am a died hard Josef Burger fan, the taste and quality of the burgers at Memphis is amazing.  Last time I was there, I had the 250g burger (NIS 55) which was thick and juicy, with a great crust on the outside, something you don’t get in the other places.

Memphis Burger

In other news, Israeli Social Eating company EatWith has been sold to European rival VizEat, read the full story here.

To read previous monthly round ups, click here.

August Foodie Roundup

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.
  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.

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 open and 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.

A new French Café near Abu Ghosh

Although it has been open over a year, Les Jumelles in Beit Nekofa has only been gaining notoriety in the last few months since they have made a push for more people to hear about them.  The small French style café is located just inside the entrance to Moshav Nekofa, a few minutes from the highway turn off to Abu Ghosh.

We knew they did not take bookings on a Friday but having arrived at 12noon, we only waited about 5 minutes before a table became available and this gave us the opportunity to admire the wonderful selection of baked goods they had available to take home including both dairy and parev cakes and biscuits.

We were sat in the outside conservatory that overlooks the street (they do not have real outside space).  Unfortunately this area does not have air-conditioning and another diner had insisted on closing one of the large windows, so it was very stuffy with little fresh air – I would not want to sit there in the height of summer.  There was also a group of 20 in this section and although they were not too noisy, they were mostly kids and made some speeches which was not ideal.  We should have insisted on waiting for a table in the main café room which was significantly quieter and cooler! It was much more pleasant once the window was eventually opened, but the inside section is still nicer.

The main menu is varied and there are also daily specials.  We all chose from the breakfast menu, which included various options of eggs Benedict and shakshuka.  I made the mistake of getting the simple house breakfast (NIS 58) which was a very average Israeli breakfast and lacked any interesting dips or breads – quite surprising for a French style cafe and the eggs themselves were overcooked.  Others were happy with their orders of the Eggs Benedict with Spinach (NIS 58) with a hollandaise sauce and a special Eggs Benedict with mushrooms, parmesan and truffles.  Both said they were delicious but the eggs were also slightly overcooked and not runny as poached eggs should be.

For me the pastries were the redeeming factor! We tried the Gluten Free Hot Chocolate Cake which was rich and indulgent but not overly sweet.  The Cheesecake was perfectly creamy and also not too sweet and the accompanying tart berry sauce was a wonderful pairing. Finally we enjoyed the pistachio cake which was rich although not overpowering but I personally thought it didn’t need the cream topping. The ice-coffee was also a perfect compliment to the cakes.

They do not have a menu in English which will hopefully change if they want to attract English speaking clientele but here is the link to the Hebrew menu.

I am personally a big fan of going for Friday brunch outside the city so I will be sure to go back but next time I will stick to the more interesting French dishes or maybe just the cakes!

Les Jumelles Café, +972 (0)2 930 9991, Kosher Mehadrin

Foodie score 7/10, FODMAP friendly score 8/10