April Foodie Roundup

I started a new job last month so I have not had as much time as usual to blog, but between Pesach and work events, I have still managed to eat some great meals. To see more photos from my culinary adventures, follow me on Instagram.

Kosher

Sushi Kebab – east meets west in the Jerusalem shuk. I am not really tempted to try it but it seems to be more kebab in the shape of sushi, than sushi with meat.

Pita Basta opened in April 2018, in place of Fleishman in Sarona Market and the menu has a number of interesting pita options.  I tried the Heavy Pita (NIS 34 – not a typo, their play on words) which was grilled chicken liver, silan, lemon sauce, tahina and other delicious toppings. They also serve a dessert Pita Loti (NIS 10), a crispy grilled pita with nutty chocolate and banana – maybe next time!

Chicho in Sarona Market is now officially kosher. The meatballs always came from a central kosher kitchen but this branch was originally open on Shabbat. They recently decided to close on Shabbat and become certified kosher.

So now there are two great kosher meat options in Sarona Market.

Bastia by Chef Sharon Gabay in the Ra’anana Mall – dishes include freeneh with falafel, arais, and Arab dishes such as freekeh, root vegetables and meat, vegetarian stuffed dishes.

Racha Georgian restaurant is kosher once again.  The original Jerusalem branch was kosher, but it closed in 2016 and reopened in Tel Aviv non-kosher. Less than two years later, they have returned to their kosher status – with a menu, similar to the one they had in Jerusalem, with the addition of some of the dairy dishes, using tofu cheese.  I remember the food to be interesting and tasty, but the service to be temperamental.

Biga in Sarona Market has now become Mehadrin, just like Biga in the Fashion Mall.

Non-Kosher

Chef Raz Rahav of OCD has opened Barvazi Urban Sandwich in central Tel Aviv. Gourmet sandwiches include mac & cheese, baby rib croissant and pineapple and smoked labane.

סנדוויץ׳ – מאק אנד צ׳יז.

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Groneman 8  is a new café in Ramat Aviv with a selection of healthy sandwiches and gourmet pizza.

בוקר טוב עולם, מה שלום כולם? @gronemancaffe

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Other News

Mateh Yehuda Food Festival takes place over three weekends from April 27 to May 20, 2018. This rural food festival has been held for over 10 years and offers unique events to food and wine lovers.  The festival includes events at restaurants, wineries and private homes which are open throughout the year, as well as one-off events that take place only for this festival. All the information can be found in Hebrew on the website.

Recent Posts

 To read previous monthly roundups click here.

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Bringing New Life to Eilat Kosher Dining

There was a time when Eilat had some of the best kosher restaurants in the country, but in recent years many of these places have closed, leaving mostly hotel restaurants that have served the same food for the last 10 years. Thus I was very excited to learn that some new kosher places have opened recently and took the opportunity to try 5th Avenue, a restaurant and cocktail bar that became kosher in February.

5th Avenue was opened a few years ago by Moran and Shlomo Amar. Even though they both grew up in traditional homes, having traveled everywhere and eaten everything, they opened a non-kosher restaurant to cater to the tastes of the local Eilat residents, as well as tourists. Over the years, their family has grown, and the couple has returned to their roots. They decided that they no longer wanted to work on Shabbat or serve non-kosher food in their restaurants. They sold their restaurant on the beach, which is still non-kosher, and 5th Avenue became kosher.

Together with chef Aviv Moshe, they developed a menu that would still keep their existing clients happy, while catering to new kosher clientele. Since becoming kosher, the restaurant has been in high demand for private events for both lunch and dinner.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post 

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

The Ultimate Farm-To-Table Experience

Gillis Steak House is worth a special trip to the Golan.

I always have a certain degree of trepidation when revisiting a restaurant that was so wonderful on a previous visit, in case the reality does not live up to the memories. This was especially true for my return visit to Gillis Steak House, as not only had it been several years since my last visit, but I had also planned a three-day trip to the Golan to make sure that we would be there for the Thursday night meat feast at Gillis. Fortunately, not only did the meal not disappoint, but it exceeded my expectations and those of my dining companion, who had heard me rave about the place for years.

Gillis is a family-run meat business on Moshav Nov in the Golan. The Gillis family live and breathe beef. By day, they run a cattle farm and butcher shop; and on Thursday nights, they open their converted barn as a restaurant so that patrons can enjoy the high quality of their beef. The menu is a meat-lover’s paradise, with several meat dishes to choose from, as well as meat platters and two tasting menus for those who want to try the full selection of dishes on offer.

So much of the charm of the Gillis Steak House is the setting and the hospitality of the Gillis family. We arrived just after they opened at 6 p.m., and there were already four tables of diners seated. We sat with a view of most of the restaurant, witnessing the efficient service of the team of young local waitresses. A bottle of water and an appetizing starter appeared within minutes of our being seated, soon followed by the menu.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Scala Offers Authentic Jerusalem Food in a Hotel Surrounding

The Scala restaurant in The David Citadel Hotel recently re-opened, having been closed for the last two years. The restaurant is off the hotel lounge, on the fourth floor of the hotel and the décor is similar to the overall style of the hotel. The previous restaurant was a fine-dining concept but the new restaurant serves traditional, Jerusalem food using modern techniques.  The hotel chef, Avi Turjeman, designed the menu to be simple and fresh, while offering authentic local food.

We started the meal with a small bowl of deliciously rich and flavorful meat and vegetable soup, which is a winter chef-special, complimentary to all diners.  Next, we ordered the mezze appetizers which are NIS 48 per platter and one platter was more than enough for three of us. The beautifully presented platter, included Warm Lupin Beans with Black Cumin, Smoked Eggplant, Tabouleh, Creamy Hummus with Warm Chickpeas, Crushed Tomato Dip with Green Chili, Tahina, Amba, Schug and wonderfully crispy Green Falafel.  My favorite part of the platter was the bread which was a light and fluffy, savory pancake-like flatbread with a similar texture to an English crumpet.  The bread worked perfectly dipped in the various sauces and wrapped around the falafel.

For the main course, I chose Veal Schnitzel (NIS 75), one of my favorite dishes and hard to find in Jerusalem.  It was a very generous portion and the dish was tasty, but I found the meat to be too thin, which meant that there was more coating than meat and the meat was slightly overcooked.  I also prefer for a veal schnitzel to be served in one large piece, rather than several small pieces.

Veal Schnitzel

I tasted both the Aged Beef Entrecote Skewer (NIS 55 per skewer) and the Pargit Skewer (NIS 48) which were both good but the chicken was my favorite of all the mains.  There is the option to order two skewers or to mix and match, but one skewer was enough for us, especially after the delicious starters.

Two skewers of Aged Entrecote and Pargit, with Grilled Vegetables

All the main courses are served with a vegetable salad and a choice of side dishes, which include Wheat Freekeh and Lentil Majadara, Basmati Rice or Potato and Sweet Potato Fries.  We tried one of each and the mixed fries were the winner, as they were well coated and we especially liked the purple potato variety.

We accompanied our meal with a glass of the house red wine, Teperberg Impression Cabernet Sauvignon (NIS 28/glass, NIS 110/bottle) which was light and fruity wine.

To finish the meal, we tried three of the four desserts on the menu, each cost NIS 35.   My favorite was the Safra Semolina and Coconut Cake, covered in a warm spiced syrup and served with lemon sorbet. The cake was not overly sweet, despite the syrup, and the lemon sorbet, topped with lemon rind, provided a perfect sharpness to the dish. 

The Fruit Salad was served with blanched almonds, mini meringues and topped with cassis sorbet.  The sorbet was wonderfully smooth and flavorful and the meringues and almonds provided a crunch to the fruity dessert.  Lastly, we had the Falooda ice cream with a marzipan and pistachio “cigar”.  The Persian ice cream, made from glass noodles and rose sugar, was not to my taste, but the cigar, which was drizzled with a warm spiced honey, was delicious.

When tourists come to Jerusalem, they want to try local food and too many of the good restaurants in Jerusalem serve everything but Israeli food.  It is refreshing to find a restaurant in a hotel that is finally giving tourists what they want. For Jerusalemites, it is also great to have a restaurant for special occasions that offers a three-course meat meal, with a glass of wine, for less than NIS 200/person.

Scala will be open for Pesach and the chef already has the menu planned.  This year, the whole hotel will be Mehadrin for Pesach only.

Scala Restaurant (Kosher), The David Citadel Hotel, 7 King David Street, Jerusalem, 02 621 2030. Full English Menu, Sunday – Thursday, 18:00-22:00. Parking validation included.

Authentic Thai food in Downtown Haifa

There are two things that most young Israelis love – eating good food and traveling through Thailand, so I have always been surprised at the lack of authentic Thai food in Israel.

Luckily for those living in Haifa, Chang Ba is the real deal, no doubt thanks to its Thai sous-chef, Dam.

Chef Idan Lifshitz serves his favorite Thai street food and even grows some of his own herbs to make the dishes as authentic as possible. The restaurant was originally situated in a smaller location but moved last year to Hanamal Street in the popular downtown Haifa port area.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Chang Ba (Credit Avi Shumacher)

December Foodie Roundup

Much as I try, I am not able to keep track of all the culinary news around the country, so I apologize in advance to those who have complained that these roundups are too Jerusalem and Tel Aviv centric. I am happy to receive foodie updates for those who live in the north or south and, of course, due credit will be given.

Jerusalem 

The much anticipated Memphis Burger (Kosher) opened their Jerusalem branch on Agripas at the beginning of December. Their burgers are beautifully seared with a crust on the outside and juicy in the middle.  At NIS 55 for 250g, they are more expensive than others in the area, but the quality of the meat definitely makes it worth it.  I have not yet tried the sweet potato fries but the regular fries are nothing special at all – which seems to be an issue in many burger places.

In case you have missed all the rave reviews, Harvey’s Smokehouse (Kosher)  has opened in the city center, in place of Gabriel, by the same owner, Harvey Sandler.  The US style smokehouse serves various meat dishes including brisket, ribs and chicken. Signature dishes include popcorn chicken, Kansas style burnt ends and cherry wood smoked asado.

Azza 40 has reopened in the city center as R&R Diner (Not Kosher).  The menu still has some of the same dishes, with some new additions. Traditional American diner dishes include Mac n Cheese, BLT, Reuben sandwich, burgers, home fries, pancakes and apple pie, click here for the full menu.

My American friend was impressed by the Reuben which was semi-authentic. The corn-beef was thinly sliced but it lacked sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese. If you plan to go at the weekend, make sure to call ahead to reserve, as they are already busy.

Smadar (Dairy-no teudah) in Smadar Cinema is under new ownership and has a new Italian menu.  It is still open on Shabbat so is not kosher but the menu is dairy.  I haven’t tried it myself but a reliable source reported that the food is authentic and well made.

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Although the opening of the Gindi Fashion Mall in Tel Aviv has been far from successful, it has added a number of new restaurants to the area, including famed burger bar Susu & Sons, Asian noodle bar Zozobra, ice-cream and waffle bar La Gofre, Biga (Mehadrin) and Cafeteria. Ilan’s Café and Tatti Café are due to open soon, more information on all the restaurant options in the fall can be found here.  For now, they are offering three hours free parking (no validation required).

Cafeteria. is a European style coffee shop that has been nicely decorated with teal and pink velvet seats and brass fixtures.  The menu is very eclectic and in my opinion, is trying too hard to imitate an authentic European café.

My friends and I shared some very tasty Arancini (NIS 39) to start, and for the main course, I had Gnocchi with artichoke, asparagus, parmesan and sea bass (NIS 128) which was delicious.  One friend had the gnocchi without the fish (NIS 68) and another enjoyed the mushroom risotto (NIS 65).  We also shared a chocolate and salted caramel nemesis (NIS 38) for dessert, which was addictively good.  We all agreed that the food was very nice but the portions were not very big, compared to the price.  The service was temperamental but it seemed to be due to new and/or inexperienced staff. The full menu, including the business lunch option, can be found here (although it is not 100% accurate).

The Norman Hotel has opened Alena (Not Kosher) restaurant, a Mediterranean brasserie with a local influence, click here for a full menu.

Al Hamayim, Herzliya Pituach – the popular fish and sushi restaurant on Sharon Beach has become kosher.  The menu includes a variety of dairy and fish dishes, along with an extensive sushi selection, click here for the full menu.

Pasha Tel Aviv (Rehov HaArba’a) has closed down, which is a real shame as the food was always very reliable.

Coming Soon & Upcoming events

Liliyot (Kosher) restaurant has closed for renovations and will return with a new concept sometime in January.  I am not sure what it will be but I have been told it will be an exciting update.

Luis Angel, Leah and Yittie Stoffer plan to open a Mexican Taqueria called Tacos Luis (Kosher). Thanks to a Headstart campaign, they have raised over NIS 140, 000, so will soon be bringing authentic Wahacan street food to Jerusalem.

The Taste of Michelin returns to the David Intercontinental Hotel, January 8-14, 2018.  This year Aubergine restaurant will host Chef Daniel Corey of Luce from the InterContinental San Francisco.

Recent Posts

  1. A Japanese Gem in Jerusalem
  2. Debbest: Dining in Sarona
  3. Debbest: Quick Bites in Sarona Market

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

A Japanese Gem in Jerusalem

JLM Sushi offers a genuine taste of the Orient

On a recent trip to the US, I realized how much I miss authentic, clean sushi. So many of the sushi restaurants in Israel have adapted their menus to Israeli tastes by incorporating ingredients like cream cheese and smoked salmon, which have no place on a real sushi menu. Although there are some good sushi restaurants around the country, Jerusalem has very few.

So it was refreshing to find a sushi restaurant that offers simple, clean sushi, where the focus is on the quality of the fish. Despite the name, JLM Sushi is more of a Japanese bar with a variety of Japanese dishes, including sushi.

Chef Yankale Turjeman, owner and chef of 1868, Zuta and now JLM Sushi, hosted us in this intimate new bar. With such a small kitchen on the premises, it is not possible for the chef to create a menu to the level he desires, so he uses the larger kitchen in his 1868 restaurant to prepare some of the dishes on the JLM menu.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

JLM Sushi Credit - sivan shuv-ami

JLM Sushi: Credit – Sivan Shuv-Ami

Debbest: Dining in Sarona

Sarona Market has many great places to grab a quick bite (more information here) but Sarona complex also has some great restaurant options for a more relaxed lunch or dinner.  Here is my list of best restaurants in Sarona.

  1. Claro

Probably one of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv right now, Claro combines fresh and interesting food with a fun ambiance and beautiful setting.  The huge open kitchen and spacious restaurant, adds to its charm.

The Mediterranean farm to table menu changes regularly but the fresh ingredients and combinations of flavors can be found in all dishes and make sure you leave room for dessert.  The lunch menu includes a starter, main course and soft drink for the price of the main course.  They are also meant to serve a great brunch at the weekend, that I have yet to try.

monday monday so good to me 😎

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  1. Whiskey Bar & Museum (Hashgacha Pratit)

Located in the tunnel 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. Fishop by Ziko

Although this is a food stand rather than a full restaurant, the style of the menu is more suited for a full meal than a quick bite. Fishop by Ziko is a joint venture between leading restaurateur Aviv Harel (owner of Seatara and Branja restaurants) and Ziko Fish.

The menu includes simple raw dishes such as carpaccio, ceviche and gravlax as well as fish main courses such as Fish & Chips (NIS 44), Sea Bass with roasted tomato (NIS 64), Grilled Sea Bream (NIS 95) and Lobster in butter sauce (NIS 289).

  1. Piazza Rustico

This classic Italian restaurant, Piazza Rustico, has a varied menu including antipasti, salads, pizza, pasta, as well as meat and fish dishes. Highlights include Burrata (NIS 48), Spicy Pepperoni pizza (NIS 59) and Pappardelle with mushrooms and chestnuts (NIS 68), here is the full English menu.

  1. Tiger Lilly

This beautifully decorated Thai restaurant has a varied menu including a large variety of authentic Thai dishes.  Favorites like Som Tam (green papaya salad NIS 35), Tom Yam (hot and sour soup NIS 68), Pad Thai (NIS 58), as well as green, red and masaman curry dishes (NIS 78) and a number of fish dishes. The full menu is on the Tiger Lilly website.

  1. Ze sushi

Although already included in my quick bites post, Ze Sushi is also a great option for full dining.  It 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. Benedict

It might be a chain but breakfast is still my favorite meal of the day so I love that Benedict serves all-day breakfasts and wish you good morning, whatever time it is.  It is also nice to be able to sit comfortably on the outside of the market.  My favorite options are the signature eggs Benedict but Israeli breakfast with unlimited bread and jams is also very good and if you really want to spoil yourself, order the delicious fluffy pancakes.

  1. Max Brenner

Although famous for its extensive chocolate dishes, the regular food at Max Brenner is also good and it is an ideal location for lunch with colleagues or business meeting.  The business lunch includes a small starter, choice of main course like Greek Salad, Caesar Salad, Schnitzel with Chips, a mini chocolate dessert and a soft drink all for either NIS 49 or 59 depending on the main course. It is spacious and comfortable, but I would recommend sitting in the outside covered section, as inside can be a bit noisy.

  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. Anita Gelato

Who says you can’t have ice-cream for dinner? Anita Gelato is one of the best ice-cream stores in the city and a perfect place for dessert after a meal in Sarona. The store has a wide selection of ice-creams and sorbets, as well as vegan and sugar-free options.

Here is a full list of all the food options in Sarona Market and Sarona Complex, as well as some recent posts about Sarona:

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Gourmandises by Yoel brings French gourmet to Jerusalem

Gourmandises by Yoel in Kikar Hamusica is an authentic French bistro run by the Afriat family.

Livnatt and Yoel Afriat were opticians in Paris with a number of their own shops, but they knew they wanted to change their careers to something that would be more easily transferable to Israel. So Yoel gave up being an optician to become a pastry chef and spent a year at Le Notre, one of Paris’s most prestigious cooking schools. Then he started his own patisserie business, selling his creations from the family home in Paris.

A chance meeting with the owner of Kikar Hamusica at a party in Paris in 2014 led to the Afriat family’s making aliya and the opening of Gourmandises by Yoel just six months later. All the pastries, breads and beautiful desserts are made by Afriat and his team from their factory in Talpiot, while the food for the restaurant is prepared by chef Oscar Zuckerman in the kitchen below the restaurant. Livnatt manages the restaurant and the catering business, which caters events at the restaurant itself for up to 200 people but also provides parve or dairy dessert buffets for weddings and other special occasions.

Many people think that Gourmandises by Yoel is just a bakery or pastry shop, but the varied menu offers so much more, so we were delighted to be invited to sample the dinner menu. In keeping with the musical theme, many of the dishes on the menu are named after French musicians.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post