August Roundup – latest changes to the Israeli culinary scene

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

Jerusalem Openings 

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

    Roast Beef Bruschetta @Bakshish

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

    משק עפאים – הבורקאסון. צילום: @asafkarela

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

Crispy desserts from Hamotzi opening party

Tel Aviv Openings 

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

יום שבת, חביבי, אתה לא מפחיד אותנו #calypso_beach

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Closings

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

Coming Soon

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

My Recent Reviews

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

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

La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk

Breakfast and More Morning to Night

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

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

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

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

French breakfast

Mac & Cheese

Cheesy Fries

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

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

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

Jacko’s Street, +972 (0)2 581 7178, Kosher

Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8/10

Getting Steamy in the Shuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Raising a glass in a classic surrounding

There is no question that the setting and the décor of the King David hotel is regal and simply walking through the lobby of the hotel to get to The Wine Bar is an elegant journey.  Set off of the main hotel lobby with similar décor and lighting, the bar still has a very hotel lobby feel to it.

The choice of wine on the menu is incredibly impressive and what is particularly special is the selection of great wines available by the glass – a selection that is updated regularly.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Read a previous review of La Regence here.

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The Wine Bar (Photo Credit: Uri Ackerman)

 

 

Michmoret – grilled fish in the shuk

I live right next to Machne Yehuda – the Jerusalem shuk, and as much as I love seeing all the new amazing places that keep opening, street food normally includes gluten of some kind so I cannot eat in any of those places.  A shame but don’t worry, i don’t suffer!

Up until now, I have stuck to grilled meat because it is the easiest on a FODMAP diet, but tonight I was showing some friends from the US around the shuk and we decided to eat in Michmoret – the fish restaurant by the owners of FishnChips.

It took awhile for the waitress to come over but once she did, she was incredibly helpful and did everything she could to make sure i had an enjoyable meal.  The menu is very simple – there is a choice of about 8 types of fish which you can order whole or filleted, grilled or fried.  The fish comes with a side or either potatoes or mixed vegetables and a selection of salads and bread to start – all for a set price of 75 NIS which is great value.  The vegetables included onion, potatoes and tomatoes – all of which are no good for me – with green beans – so she was happy to just give me green beans.

Make sure to tell them about not eating garlic as they normally put garlic on the grilled fish.

The salads came and she made a special effort to tell me which ones didn’t have onion or garlic in them and put them in front of me.  One was cabbage which I didn’t try but I enjoyed the simple kohlrabi salad and the delicious olives while my friends demolished.  She also brought me a special portion of bread as the main bread had garlic in, i didn’t have the heart to tell her i couldn’t eat that either.

2016-02-02 20.40.33The fish came with a green salsa on the side which she originally said i could have and only once i had already tried a bit did she come back and say it did have garlic in – but I had luckily only had a small amount.  The beans were also covered in sesame seeds – which is not great for me but I ate them anyway.

It happened to be a freezing night outside and their heating wasn’t working and it is very drafty even inside the restaurant but the food was delicious and the service was extra helpful.  It was also a treat to enjoy some freshly grilled fish and the best part is how reasonable the price was.

FODMAP friendly score 8/10, foodie score 7/10. I will definitely go back. Kosher.

FODMAP in the Holy City

There is very little information about FODMAP friendly places in Israel in general but from my experience, Jerusalem restaurants are more willing to accommodate changes in dishes on the menu more than in Tel Aviv.  I will try to share my suggestions of where to eat and where to avoid.  I was inspired to create these tips and list by this great blog based in NYC, http://www.fodmapinthecity.com/.

Here are some general tips for eating in restaurants in Israel:

  1. Do not bother to explain the full FODMAP limitations, the most important ones for most menus is gluten free, no onion, garlic or sauces.
  2. Always tell the server that you are allergic to onion and garlic – they do not understand the term intolerance, they will just think you are just being difficult.
  3. Insist that they write on your order no onion or garlic even if they say the dish you ordered does not contain either- i have sent back so many dishes where the menu didnt mention onion, the server didnt think the dish had onion or the kitchen added something as a garnish.
  4. Make sure you explain that onion includes all types of onions, white onion,  red onion and green onion (what they call scallions/spring onion).
  5. When ordering a salad, always ask for the dressing on the side – even if they say they are giving you olive oil and lemon, they will often put on something else.  If you get the dressing yourself, you should be able to see that it is right, or at worse try a small amount.
  6. Do not be afraid to ask for something special.  Some places will accommodate, some wont but if you dont ask, you wont find out.

I will add specific suggestions in the blog posts that will follow but for now here is a list of places I have tried and their FODMAP friendly score.

FODMAP friendly

  • Josef’s Burger, Jerusalem: 10/10 – burger no bun, goose breast or fried egg and side salad or burger salad or gluten free bun (for those who can eat corn).
  • Mitzi’s, Shuk, Jerusalem: 8/10 – burger or sliced steak on a bed of salad.
  • Cafe de Paris, Jerusalem: 8/10 – grilled fish and green beans
  • Chakra, Jerusalem: 8/10  – recommended dishes steamed salmon and green vegetables or steak and beans.
  • Trattoria Haba, Jerusalem: 6/10 -good for breakfast but other food is harder.
  • Machneyuda, Jerusalem :8/10  -grilled fish or steak with green vegetables.
  • Hasadna, Jerusalem: 8/10 – grilled fish or steak with green beans.
  • Michmoret, Shuk, Jerusalem: 8/10 – full review here.
  • Pasha, Tel Aviv: 7/10 – grilled pargit and grilled zucchini.  No starter salads suitable.
  • Carmelli Bagels, Sarona Market, Tel Aviv: 10/10 – make your own salad bar without a bagel.
  • Marinado, Sarona Market, Tel Aviv: 10/10 –  burger no bun and side salad or any grilled meat.
  • Agadir Burger, Tel Aviv and Herzliya: 9/10 – Angus burger no bun, goose breast or fried egg and green beans (all other burgers have onion in the meat mix).
  • Yankale, Herzliya Pituach: 9/10 – salad Nicoise or quinoa salad.
  • The Notre Dame Cheese and Wine Restaurant, Jerusalem 9/10- grilled salmon with steamed vegetables.
  • Fishop, Sarona Market, Tel Aviv 7/10 – grilled fish with green beans

FODMAP Unfriendly

  • Black Burger – 1/10 – all burgers have onion in the meat mix,  salads are pre-mixed and chicken came with a sauce all over even when asked without.
  • Derby Fish Bar, Tel Aviv: 3/10 – very unhelpful, no FODMAP friendly side dishes.
  • Biga, Tel Aviv: 0/10 – refused to accommodate menu changes so left.
  • Roy’s Chocolate Cafe, Sarona Market: 0/10 – very unhelpful.
  • Lumina by Meir Adoni, Tel Aviv: 2/10 – very unwilling to accommodate.
  • Santa Katarina, Tel Aviv: 5/10 – only agreed to change the dish when the chef came to tell me he couldn’t take responsibility for it tasting good!
  • Fresh Kitchen: 2/10 – most components of the salad are premixed so could not accommodate changes.

Modern dining in classic surroundings

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

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

A little cocktail bar with a big punch

Charcuterie and Cocktail at Zuta

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

Zuta solves both these problems in one.

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

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