Jacko’s Street: A Winning Combination

Jacko’s has all the right ingredients for a memorable dining experience

If eating at a restaurant was just about the food, then I don’t think the restaurant industry would survive. A dining experience is not just about the food but rather the whole experience, including the service and the ambience. Many restaurants in Israel fail by not considering the experience they offer diners.

Jacko’s Street opened four years ago in Jerusalem and was the first kosher chef restaurant in the Mahaneh Yehuda market area. As the small streets around the shuk started to fill with more and more eating options, the popularity of Jacko’s also grew. In my opinion, the success of Jacko’s Street is due to its understanding that it is important to offer people more than just great food.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Goose Liver Semolina Cake

Beef Fillet Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Beef Carpaccio Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Fish Bruschetta

Jerusalem in Our Hearts – the Celebrations Continue

The opening ceremony of the Jerusalem at 50 celebrations was probably one of the most uplifting events I have ever been to but luckily some of the magic from that night continues with the “Jerusalem in Our Hearts – Sound and Light Show” that is taking place for 50 days to celebrate 50 years of United Jerusalem.

Click here for a full post about the Jerusalem at 50 opening show, including my first vlog.

The beautifully choreographed show is projected onto the outside walls of the Old City, between Jaffa Gate and Kikar Tsahal (towards New Gate) and includes spectacular graphics depicting the story of the Old City of Jerusalem over the centuries, interspersed with video clips of some of the music performances from the opening ceremony, including Sarit Hadad, Avraham Tal, Ben Snof, Idan Amedi and Amir Benayoun (the links are to songs by each artist, some from the opening ceremony)

The show starts at 8.15, 9 and 10 pm every weeknight (not Friday or Shabbat) and lasts for about 35 minutes. It is free of charge and does not require tickets, but make sure you get there on time as the beginning is the most impressive part.  Very limited information in Hebrew can be found here, www.unitedjerusalem50.com (ignore the times on the website – the first show is at 8.15 not 8 pm) but you have all the information here and I am happy to answer questions if you comment below.

I highly recommend going to see it sooner rather than later, it was so good, I want to go again!

Here is a video montage of the opening celebrations from the production company.

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.

Open Restaurants come to Jerusalem – November 22-26 2016

For those that haven’t heard of Open Restaurants, think Open Houses but for restaurants – the restaurants open their doors for visitors to poke around their kitchen and see where the magic really happens.  The concept was developed in Tel Aviv four years ago and has since expanded to London, Amsterdam and now Jerusalem

The culinary festival will include a variety of events related to chefs, restaurants and local culinary personalities.  Special events include a cocktail party on the Light Rail, Jerusalem chefs giving special tours of the Israel Museum and a Mad Hatters Tea Party at Alliance House.

Several popular Jerusalem restaurants will open their kitchens for special workshops and dinners, among them Machneyuda, Hamotzi, Adom, Rama’s Kitchen, and Azura.

There will also be a series of food walks including around the Old City and Machane Yehuda shuk by day and night. Bitemojo, the self-guided food tours app initially developed in Berlin market will make its Israeli début with two separate tours. Some of the city’s leading hotels, including Alegra, American Colony and Herbert Samuel will offer workshops with their chefs and special rates for accommodation.

While most of the events will be held in Hebrew, there will also be some events in English including food walking tours of the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods, an evening/night tour starting in the Nachalat Shiva neighborhood and ending in the shuk. Food writer Nomi Abeliovich will lecture on Ottolenghi’s Anthology: Memories, traditions and Jerusalem food in English and there is also a guided tour of Machane Yehuda in English for children.

Information on all the events can be found on the festival website http://open-restaurants.co.il but there is very limited information in English even about the English-speaking events!

Pesach Jerusalem 2014

One of the many wonderful things about spending Pesach in Jerusalem is the abundance of choice when it comes to eating out. Here is just a selection of some of my favorite restaurants to enjoy during chol hamoed Pesach. As always, I recommend making a reservation.

There are a number of great meat places to choose from in the Holy City and most are open for Pesach, here are my top choices:

Sashimi (Angelica)

Angelica

Angelica is once again top of my list as I think they have the most varied menu, from good steaks to delicious fish, so there is something for all tastes (02 623 0056, Non-Kitniyot). A slightly more expensive option, with interesting dishes and an incredible view, is the Rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel overlooking the Old City (02 548 2230 Non-Kitniyot). For a great steak, you cannot go wrong with Gabriel and the new owner has changed up the menu recently so it is worth checking out (02 624 6444, Non-Kitniyot, Mehadrin).

Jacko's Street

Jacko’s Street

A new addition this year is Jacko’s Street, a great option for a fun dinner with friends. Located next to the shuk, the open kitchen and creative dishes make it a quintessentially Jerusalem experience, bringing the essence of the shuk to your table (02 5817178, Kitniyot).

Sushi Rehavia has a great selection of cooked Asian dishes, as well as a full sushi menu.  This is a less formal option and good for families or large groups, their branches on Emek Refaim and the City Center will both be open, as well as deliveries (02 622 2083,Kitniyot).

There are also plenty of dairy options to choose from, so here are just a few:

Café de Paris in Rehavia (02 566 5126, Non-Kitniyot) and Grand Café in Baka (02 570 2702, Non-Kitniyot) are both great choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a large variety of dishes on their menu.

Trattoria Haba

Trattoria Haba

The relatively new Trattoria Haba on Rehov Yafo is a great café/restaurant and an oasis of tranquility next to the shuk. They normally specialize in bread and pastries so it will be interesting to see what creative dishes their chefs come up with (02 623 3379, Non-Kitniyot, Mehadrin).

Basher Cheese Bar

Basher Cheese Bar

 

Last, but by no means least, Basher Cheese Bar is a great destination for a meal or drink with friends and their Pesach menu includes rich cheesy dishes like moussaka and vegetable gratin, as well as their traditional cheese platters (02 5340400, Kitniyot). They are also open late and have an extensive wine menu so it is the perfect place for a fun night out during Pesach.

It is always good to hear what other people enjoyed, so if you go to these or any other delicious places, please post a comment below and let us know how it was.

חג פסח כשר ושמח

 

Shaking it up in the shuk

Machneyuda has invigorated the culinary scene in the area around the Jerusalem market.

Polenta (Credit Ya'acov Harari).jpg

There is a difference between reviewing a new or updated restaurant and visiting an old favorite, and Machneyuda definitely fits into the second category. The menu changes daily but the style, ambience and essence stay the same. As one of the best restaurants in Jerusalem, and some would even say in Israel, it was definitely a pleasure to go back there.

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

What’s your Mantra?

The Feingold Courtyard off Jaffa Road may be a hidden corner of downtown Jerusalem, but not only does it contain a great selection of bars and restaurants, but it seems to attract locals and tourists alike. For the past 12 years, the large corner of the courtyard housed the popular restaurant and wine bar Adom, so when it recently moved to the new First Station complex, Mantra took its place. It may be a while before people stop referring to it as the restaurant formerly known as Adom, but hopefully Mantra’s food will speak for itself and bring in its own following.

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

dessert 96.jpg

Having a Grand time

Grand Café in Jerusalem is a cross between a French pâtisserie and a high-end New York diner.

For many years I have been a groupie of chef Marcos Gershkovitch, so when I found out that he would be hosting us during the Benedict Festival at Grand Café in June, I knew we were off to a good start.

Click here for the full review of Grand Cafe in The Jerusalem Post

מקרונים

A taste of Paris

With the opening of Café de Paris, Jerusalem has a new kosher café with French flair on the site that was once Café Moment.

Arguably one of the most notorious locations in Jerusalem, Café de Paris sits on the corner of Ben-Maimon Street and Azza Road, a stone’s throw from the Prime Minister’s residence. The locale is part of Rehavia’s history, first as Café Moment and for the past eight years as Restobar, which caused an uproar among the city’s secular citizens when it closed in March.

Click here for the full review of Café de Paris in The Jerusalem Post

בוקר רחביה.jpg

Getting Passionate about Pesach Dining

The main reason I started this blog in the first place was because local and visiting friends were always asking for recommendations of where to eat in the Holy City, especially during the hagim, so despite being less focused on writing over the last few months, I could not let Pesach pass without a new post.

For me it is a very exciting time in Jerusalem right now.  New restaurants are opening all over the city and people are getting savvier about what they want and like. In contrast to last year, Shabbat falls in the middle of Hol Hamoed so fewer places are staying open but there is still a good selection to choose from.

Kedma

Kedma

Top of my list this year is Kedma (non-kitniyot), it has been around for a few years but until recently I had not eaten there.  Located on the top floor of the inside Mamilla Mall, the whole restaurant overlooks the old city walls whether you sit inside or on their large terrace.  The menu has a wide variety of meat and fish dishes and there is something to suit every palate. To start with, I highly recommend the Homemade Mini Sausages served with guacamole (41 ₪) or the Beef Carpaccio (54 ₪).   For serious meat eaters, the simple Entrecote (122 ₪) will not disappoint and I also really like the Goose Breast with a wild berry sauce and mashed potatoes (84 ₪).   The Kedma Burger is served with seared Foie Gras (92 ₪) and is one of the best burgers I have had. For a lighter main dish, try the Lamb Kebabs with tabuleh (78 ₪).  Kedma is far less formal then the traditional steak restaurants and just as tasty.

Of course the usual steak restaurants are all open and as always are non-kitniyot.  Angelica is top of my list for an all-round dining experience, while Gabriel is a great option for steak lovers.  Lara is less formal with an interesting selection of dishes and La Boca on Emek Refaim is great if you want something a bit different with its South American flare!

Frangelico

Frangelico

For those who are not restricted by a kitniyot free diet, there is a great selection of Asian/Sushi restaurants to choose from this year.   Yan under the Jerusalem Theater has a vast sushi menu as well as a delicious choice of noodles and other Asian meat dishes.  Sushi Rehavia is only opening its large branch in the City Center but will also be doing deliveries from there.  The sushi is incredibly similar to the rest of the year and other meat dishes are served with rice instead of noodles.  The new kid on the block is Frangelico, at the bottom of Shlomtzion Hamalka.  They have most of the usual selection of sushi but the prices are higher and portions smaller.  The funky setting and the fact that it is a bar as well as a restaurant is a draw for a lot of people and be sure to try the Maki Crispy Tuna or Salmon as they are both delicious!

Muize

Muize

Most of the coffee shops around the city will be open as usual.  Muize on Rehov Azza is a new edition to the mix since last year.  The menu has a wide selection of breakfast, salad and other main dishes.  The décor is bright and modern and the service is friendly.  As well as a small outside area and the tables in the main restaurant, there are seats at the bar so you can watch the magic being made and a bench for those who want to sit with laptops.  Great free WiFi service and it is kitniyot free.

Click here for a list of other places open for Pesach with contact numbers.