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.
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.