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 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 – 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.

#marzipanbakery #bestrugelachs #areyouachocolatelover #orcinnamonlover#onetasteisallittakes

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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 have 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 be 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 you 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.

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Debbest: Top Ten Kosher Restaurants in Israel

People are always asking me for my top ten favorites and I do believe there is no definitive list as it depends on occasion, age, style of food and of course, most importantly, personal taste. Having said that I do like lists so why not write my own!

I have started with a list of my favorite  kosher restaurants in Israel, as that seems to be the most requested and will move onto other categories in the next few months.  This list is based purely on my personal experience and I have eaten at all of these places as a paying guest.  The menu in some places varies seasonally so I have tried to recommend dishes that are consistently on the menu or a similar variation of the same dish.  There is a carnivorous focus to my suggestions as that is my personal preference when eating out but I have included the link to a full review, if available, so you can find more suggestions.

  1. Jacko’s Street, Jerusalem

It will be no surprise to anybody that knows me personally or follows this blog that Jacko’s Street is my favorite restaurant in Israel (not just kosher ones) and will always be top on my list of recommendations. It is my go-to place for taking out-of-town guests and even those who don’t eat kosher are impressed by the creativity of the menu and energetic atmosphere in the restaurant – it epitomizes the expression “fun-dining”.

The menu is a Middle Eastern fusion, with many dishes offering an elevated version of traditional home-style recipe. My favorite starters are the Asado Bruschetta or the Red Tuna Fricasse and for mains, I normally order the Gourmet Burger, the Charred Steak or the Prime Rib, if I have a willing partner to share. After 9 pm the music is lively so if that is not what you are looking for, either go early or find somewhere else.

Jacko’s Street, Agripas 74, Jerusalem 02 581 7178 – full review here.

It's all about the meat

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  1. La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem

For those looking for truly creative kosher dining, the tasting menu at La Regence is a unique experience.  As you would expect from The King David Hotel, the service is efficient and attentive.

The style of the menu is European with an Israeli twist. Signature dishes include the Tomato Leather filled with Sea Fish Salad and the Chicken Consommé to start, Roasted Duck confit with Black Garlic for main and the Chocolate & Olive Oil is an extraordinary dessert. At a cost of 380 NIS per guest, it is definitely a special occasion option for most people and it is a very formal, old-school hotel style restaurant. There is also the option to order from the regular menu.

La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem 02 620 8795- full review here.

Tomato “leather” filled with sea fish salad

  1. Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem

For the ultimate “Jerusalem” setting, Rooftop RestaurantMamilla Hotel is a must.  The view over the Old City is incomparable and the menu is always fresh and interesting with mostly Mediterranean dishes with a Middle Eastern influence.

I love the Iron-Rich Herb Salad, Duck in a Blanket and Grouper Shawarma starters. For main I cannot resist the Entrecote as it is one of my favorites in Jerusalem, but the Lamb Chops and the Bass are also great dishes. The service is slightly hit or miss but the view and quality of the food make it worthwhile.

Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem 02 548 2230 – full review here.

  1. Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Herzliya Pituach

I have been fortunate to eat in Herbert Samuel in the Ritz Carlton Herzliya on a number of occasions.  There can be issues with consistency and service but my overall experience has very positive.

I tend to start with a light raw dish like the Red Tuna Crudo or Beef Tartare.  The Tomato Salad is the Herbert Samuel signature dish and very popular.  If you are dining with a fellow carnivore then I recommend ordering the Beef Chateau or the Prime Rib as they are both great options for a minimum of 2 diners. I have often been with non-meat eaters who have been very happy with their fish main course. All the chocolate related desserts are always incredible and worth saving room for. There is also a very impressive wine menu and the wine fridges line the length of the restaurant.

Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Herzliya, Herzliya Pituach 073 203 7596.

  1. Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv

Yet another hotel restaurant, but the rooftop setting overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline and shoreline is spectacular, even in the winter.  Chef Meir Adoni is an incredibly creative chef who experiments with unusual flavor and texture combinations.

The menu changes regularly and the dishes I had are no longer on there but we all enjoyed everything we ordered. The menu is now entirely fish dishes and has more of an Asian twist than I remember, and I really don’t like his sister restaurant Lumina since it became some weird fusion, so I hope Blue Sky is still as good as it once was.

Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel 03 520 1830.

  1. Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov

Although Gillis is not a real restaurant, the food is so good it still qualifies for this list.  Gillis Steak House is only open on a Thursday night, the rest of the time it is a cattle farm and butcher.

The menu is simple – meat! Some dishes can be ordered individually, including a token chicken dish but for real carnivores, the tasting menus are the way to go.  There are various options depending on how much meat you want to receive, but it is all unbelievably delicious so I recommend going all out and getting the Just Beef tasting menu at NIS 238 per person.

The most unique aspect about the place is that the cooks are actually the farm workers, who just know how to cook the meat well and honor its true flavor – there are no special sauces or fancy plating, just delicious well-cooked high quality beef.  The service is incredibly warm and the Gillis family personally host all their guests.

Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov, Golan 04 676 3555 – full review here.

  1. Muza Bahar, Shoresh

Day or night, Muza Bahar is a scenic way to enjoy a very good meal. The Duck Fillet is a clear winner in the starters.  The duck is well cooked and it is served with caramelized apples and a Calvados foam, which perfectly complement the flavors of the duck.

For main I normally order the Cote de Boeuf (500g Rib Eye) which is a serious piece of meat but it is well aged and the bone marrow accompaniment makes it even more indulgent. The Trio of Mini Burgers are also very interesting and the Salmon Fillet is a great alternative for non-meat eaters.

The desserts are all beautifully presented but the Deconstructed Lemon Pie was the most interesting and least parev tasting of them all.

Muza Bahar, Shoresh 02 624 6897 – full review here.

Muza Bahar. (photo credit:PR)

  1. Roberg, Moshav Livnim

I have not been back to Roberg for quite some time but previous visits were so consistent that I still believe it deserves its place on this list. The restaurant is the top floor of the family home in a Moshav overlooking the Kinneret so if you have a chance to go during daylight, I highly recommend doing so.

The menu is fixed price at NIS 150 for four courses or NIS 180 for five and both options include a selection of starters and mains to choose from.  There is a warm friendly atmosphere and service is always with a smile.   As well as the plethora of delicious salads that accompany the tasting menu, you can also ask for refills if you want more of a specific protein dish. There is no specific dish to recommend, it is more the entire dining experience that keeps people coming back for more.

Roberg, Moshav Livnim 04 671 5656.

  1. Minato, Herzliya Pituach

Possibly one of the best sushi restaurants in Israel, the quality of the ingredients and the precise of the preparation is what distinguishes Minato from most sushi places in Israel. The menu also includes some delicious cooked dishes like Agedashi Tofu, Katsu Chicken and Minato Yakiniku (entrecote with a mild mirin sauce).

The design of the restaurant and the dishes used are beautiful and add to the dining experience. The only downside is that the restaurant is on the small side so space is limited.

Minato, Herzliya Pituach 09 773 1703.

  1. Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv

I debated whether to include Whiskey Bar in this list as the food and service were not perfect both times I was there (hence number 10) but the setting and concept are so unique that I believe it deserves to be included and it is also much better than many of the other kosher meat restaurants in Tel Aviv.

It is located in the basement of a Templar building in Sarona, with walls lined with over 1000 types of whiskey, but it is still enjoyable for non-whiskey drinkers like myself.

The Beef Carpaccio and Liver Pate are tasty starters and the Prime Rib and Lamb Chops are succulent mains. The chocolate mousse with smoked whiskey is a shining favorite for everyone.

Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv 03 955 1105.

Some other favorites that didn’t quite make the list are 1868 in Jerusalem,  Oratorio in the Elma Hotel in Zichron and the restaurants in the Beresheet and Cramim hotels.  Although I find hotel restaurants often lack atmosphere, the fact that they cater to tourists often means the standard of food and service are better.

I should mention that I have not eaten at either Cà Phê Hanoi or Olive Leaf in Tel Aviv but both are meant to be great kosher restaurants. I would love to hear what other top ten lists you want to see and what your top kosher restaurants are.

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Debbest: Shopping in the Shuk

Before I lived next to Shuk Machane Yehuda, I used to occasionally buy some specialty foods there but the rest was pretty much a mystery to me.  Having spent the last four years shopping regularly in the shuk, I have come to learn the ins and outs of where to shop for the best produce.  Some of my favorite stalls are not always the cheapest but they either have the best produce and/or staff that I trust not to rip me off, so here is my guide to shopping in the shuk.

  1. Meat – Mizrachi Butchers

I discovered this place by accident but later found out that many of my friends, including two chefs, also get their meat there.  Mizrachi has a great selection of meats, it is clean and Nissim is always friendly and very helpful.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the Israeli number system for meat, just tell him what you plan to cook and he will give you the right cut of meat.  He also recently started stocking antibiotic-free chicken and often has duck and other specialty products.

Insider Tip –  open late on a Friday afternoon and closed on Sunday.

Mizrachi Butchers (Kosher), 13 HaCheruv Street (corner of HaTut), Nissim Mizrachi, 02 624 3939/050 785 4569.

  1. Fish – David Dagim

You might be able to find cheaper fish in the shuk, but David Dagim is unbeatable on selection and quality so I personally prefer to pay a bit extra and know that I am getting the freshest fish. There is always a line of people from all over the city waiting to order and receive recommendations from the owners.  They will prepare and pack the fish however you want it and they deliver.

Insider Tip – ask for sushi grade fish to make your own sushi. Closed on Sunday

David Dagim (Badatz), 15 HaShaked Street, 02-586 7640 – English order form online.

  1. Fruit – Open Shuk

The great thing about fruit in Israel is that you mostly get local fruit that is in season so you can be sure that it is fresh and usually well priced (here is a calendar of local produce).  From my experience, the Yaffo end of the open shuk (Machane Yehuda Street) is the best place to buy fruit based on price and quality.  There are some places in the closed shuk that have better quality but their prices are much higher.  There is no particular place that I buy everything but between the various stalls on both sides of the street, I look around, compare the quality and prices and find what I need.

Fruit in Machne Yehuda (from machne.co.il)

  1. Vegetables – Iraqi shuk

If you enter the Iraqi shuk from the main entrance in the middle of the open shuk, at the end of the first alley is a large vegetable store on the left. There is always a great selection of well-priced fresh vegetables.  The store opposite can be cheaper butthe selection and quality is not as good.

I buy my lettuce and fresh herbs from a small store further into the Iraqi shuk, opposite Argento (at the end of the first alley, turn right and the store is the second on the left).  I will sometimes buy radishes, green beans and individual potatoes from the various stores further into the Iraqi shuk which all seem to specialize in a few specific types of vegetables.

  1. Spices – Ras el Hanut

There are so many spice stores in the shuk, it is mostly a matter of personal taste and for years I shopped at Pereg as they have a great selection of loose spices, as well as pre-packaged jars.  But when Ras el Hanut opened a new store earlier in the year, I jumped ship.  The store is not only large and well laid out, I find the quality to be very good, the staff incredibly helpful and the products well priced.  They provide spice mixes for restaurants in the area like Hatzot, Jacko’s Street, Machneyuda, Rachmo and Pinati and will help put together your own spice mix on request.

As well as buying spices and some grains from them, I also like that they will grind nuts to order and you can request if you want a fine meal or chunky.  They also have a great selection of dairy and parev chocolate buttons which are ideal for melting for chocolate desserts.

Ras el Hanut (Kosher), 72 Agripas Street, corner of HaArmonim Street, 02 641 1711, online orders and delivery available. All loose products are Badatz.

  1. Bread – Teller Bakery

Most restaurants in Jerusalem get their bread supplied by Teller Bakery. Although there is a small stand in the shuk, the full selection of their breads is only available from their store. The majority of their breads are sourdough, except the focaccia and challot and if you get there early enough on a Friday, they do great wholegrain challot. As well as some specialty flavored breads, they also make special rolls for making soup in a roll.

Favorite food – blueberry and walnut sourdough.

Insider Tip – all their bread and pastries are sold for half price at the end of each day at 18:45 and 30 minutes before closing on a Friday– but be warned, there is always a line and it is a literal “bun-fight”. The breads freeze very well, even when sliced.

Teller Bakery (Mehadrin), main bakery @74 Agripas with a stand in the shuk @Eliyahu Banai Street, corner of Etz HaChaim Street, 02 622 3227.

 

  1. Coffee – Roasters

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 delicious coffee to sit and watch the world go by, take away and drink while you shop or freshly ground coffee to take home.  There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee.

Favorite food – Cortado coffee, ice-coffee and almond & raspberry tart.

Roasters (Kosher), 20 HaAfarsek Street, 054 671 0296.

  1. Dips and Salads – Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the best selection of take-away dips and salads in the city.  They also have a great selection of fried foods like cigars, schnitzel and kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying take-out food on a Friday but be prepared to wait in line.

Favorite food – Moroccan cigars and spicy grated carrot salad.

Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher), 70 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 624 3322/ 054 694 9403, catering available.

  1. Cheese – Basher Fromagerie

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 in Israel.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue for you, make sure you ask to see the hechsher.

If you prefer a fully kosher shop, the dairy Tzidkiyahu deli (opposite the meat deli on Etz HaChaim Street) has a great selection of kosher cheeses including authentic kosher Parmigiano Reggiano.

Insider Tip – the staff at Basher are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and will try to sell you more than you want.

Basher Fromagerie (No Hechsher), 53 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 625 7969, telephone orders available.

 

  1. Pastries @ Taam Tam

This unassuming bakery, on the outskirts of the shuk, houses an authentic French patisserie with fresh and flaky croissants in various flavors and an incredible display of cream cakes and desserts. Taam Tam also has some parev pastries and challot on a Friday. The cakes are on the expensive side as they are very intricate but the croissants are similar prices to other places and far superior in quality.

Favorite food – pain au chocolate with almond.

Insider Tip – pastries bought on are Friday are still delicious on Shabbat morning, especially if warmed up.

Taam Tam (Mehadrin), 151 Yaffo Street, 053 522 6406 –catering available.

Real French Croissants in the heart of Jerusalem #taamtam #foodieisrael #shuk #jerusalemfood

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  1. Health Food – Hadasa Teva

Although the shop is small, it is well stocked and has better prices than the other health stores in the area, with friendly and knowledgeable staff. I buy most of my grains by the weight here, such as oats, rice and quinoa, and unlike many other stores in the shuk, I have never had a problem finding bugs inside (although I always put them all in the freezer for 24 hours just to be safe). They have a great selection of chocolate, including some artisanal low sugar and dairy free options.

Favorite food – coconut water with pineapple and Holy Cacao chocolate bars.

Insider Tip – they sell 12 large organic eggs at a fixed price of NIS 19 and often have special offers on other items.

Hadasa Teva (Kosher), 2 Beit Yaakov Street (near the corner of Yaffo), 02 664 4332 – online orders and delivery available. Most products are Badatz.

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.

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!

Trattoria Haba combines international style with local flavors

IMG_0348The Haba family has been an essential part of the Jerusalem shuk for over 50 years, since they moved to Israel from Iraq. What started as a small bread stand has developed into a baking empire and as the life in Machaneh Yehuda has evolved, so has their business.

While they still have numerous bread stands in and around the shuk, the younger members of the family recognized the need for a more upscale bakery and restaurant – and Trattoria Haba was born.

To help make this idea a reality, the family recruited Michael Katz as executive chef for the Haba group. Katz spent four years as the executive chef of the Adom Group (Adom, Colony, Lavan etc) and was previously the chef and owner of Michael Andrew restaurant, and a teacher at the Cordon Bleu school in London.

_3244Located on Jaffa Street between the entrances to the closed and open shuk, Trattoria Haba is a beacon of modern style in traditional surroundings. At the entrance to the trattoria is a delicatessen, with a large array of fresh breads, pastries, salads and desserts available for takeaway. The restaurant itself includes tables on the ground and first floor, as well as tables out front on Jaffa Street and a small courtyard in the back, overlooking the Georgian section of the main shuk.

We started our meal with a selection of appetizers and salads. The croquettes of brie and pecorino cheese were the perfect balance of crispy and creamy, without being too heavy or rich (NIS 39). We enjoyed the curry-flavored couscous salad (NIS 48), which included a combination of roasted butternut squash, green beans, nuts and a variety of fresh cherry tomatoes, but we found the curry flavor to be a little too subtle.

IMG_0316For main course, we tried the market calzone (NIS 46) filled with pecorino, camembert, tomato sauce, black olives and roasted peppers. The portion was very generous and came with a delicious side salad, but our only criticism was that the tomato sauce made the filling slightly runny. Next, we tried the homemade cheese ravioli (NIS 64) and the ricotta cheese gnocchi (NIS 58). Both dishes were fresh and light, and I could not believe the gnocchi were cheese-based and not potato; this was definitely a dish I would go back for. Finally, we had the sea bream fillet (NIS 98) served with roasted vegetables. This is the most expensive dish on the menu, but the portion was very generous and the fish was perfectly cooked.

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And so to the desserts. We sampled both the pain au chocolate (NIS 15) and cheese Danish pastry (NIS 15), which were both good, but we found the dough a bit heavy. My favorite dessert was the tiramisu (NIS 28). which was perfectly balanced.

The restaurant has an extensive breakfast menu that is served until noon on weekdays and all day on Friday. The house breakfast (NIS 56) is incredible value and as well as the usual choice of eggs, salad, breads and dips, it also includes home cured salmon, fresh juice and a hot drink. They are always happy to make substitutes and special requests like soy milk are not extra. The breakfast for two (NIS 104) also comes with yoghurt with muesli and additional salads and despite trying on numerous occasions; I have never been able to finish it.

The service is very hit and miss and is especially slow when they are busy on a Friday, but the food is always consistent so it keeps people coming back for more!

Kosher Mehadrin
119 Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
http://www.haba.co.il
(02) 623-3379
Sunday-Thursday 8 a.m. to midnight
Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday One hour after Shabbat until midnight

A healthy alternative in Nachlaot

Pumpkin cream ravioli (NIS 62)

Pumpkin cream ravioli (NIS 62)

The choice of restaurants in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood has multiplied in the past few years, but although many of them focus on using the fresh ingredients from the nearby Machaneh Yehuda market, most cannot claim to offer healthy options. There is an ever-increasing demand for vegan and gluten-free dishes, so it is wonderful that Nagila can satisfy that demand.

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

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