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

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.

_3054

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

 

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.

Gourmet meat at Jacko’s Street

There’s a trendy new kosher bistro in the midst of Jerusalem’s shuk.

G01.jpgThere is no question that the nightlife in and around Mahaneh Yehuda has changed dramatically in the past year, but until recently there were no high-end meat restaurants.

Jacko’s Street, tucked away on a side street off Agrippas, offers an eclectic, vibrant kosher menu in a relaxed and fun environment.

Opening a restaurant together had always been a dream for childhood friends Rafi Revivo, Yotam Nissim and Zakai Hooja.

Click here for the full review of Jacko’s Street in The Jerusalem Post

Pesach friendly Nightlife

For the many singles that live in the Holy City and the numerous tourists who descend on it over Pesach, it is perhaps more important to know where they can have a “kosher” drink over Pesach than where they can eat.

Mirror Bar

Mirror Bar

Anyone who has read my previous blog posts knows that in the past my answer was always the same – Mirror Bar – but over the last year, not only have other options opened up, but my taste in bars has also changed.  So while Mirror Bar is still a good option if you want tasty Pesach meat snacks and a good choice of wine and Trump vodka, it is good to know that is no longer the only option for heading out with friends or on a date this Pesach.

I have 2 new favorites that are quite different, so in no particular order, here they are:

Basher

Basher

Basher – located at the beginning of Aggripas, just off King George, this bar/restaurant is popular with the trendier Nachlaot crowd and also attracts many different people for dinner and drinks.   I have loved this place since it opened and was happy to indulge in their gourmet cheese platters accompanied by delicious wine, but it was not always under kashrut supervision.  Now it is Kasher LeMehadrin (the teudah is in the kitchen, but I have seen it for myself) and they will be open for Pesach.  All the wine and cheese is the same as the rest of the year and one of the owners assured me that they have worked hard on making nice Pesach bread and are even trying to perfect a Pesach Gnocchi recipe.

HaSchena

HaSchena – a friend recently described this place as a pocket of Tel Aviv in Jerusalem – for all the right reasons.  Close enough to the shuk to also attract some Nachlaot crew, it is also next to the uber-cool Yudale (tapas bar of famed Machneyuda) and therefore gets passing trade from people hanging out there.  Again, until recently it was kosher but with no supervision, they now have a Teudat Kashrut and will be open for Pesach serving dairy snack.  There is always a good vibe inside and the outside terrace is small but cosy.  As the weather gets warmer, people start spilling out onto the street and it also seems to be gaining popularity.

So three very different options of kosher places to head out to over Pesach for a good time with your friends and the possibility of meeting some new ones!  חג שמח

Winter Fun in the Holy City

Over the summer in Jerusalem, there is an abundance of festivals, concerts and other fun to be had in and around the Holy City but as the winter sets in and the city empties of tourists, there are still some fun things to look forward to.

Jerusalem Knights in the Old City

Taking place over 4 Thursday evenings on October 18, 25, November 1 and 8, 2012, the Jerusalem Knights in the Old City returns for a 3rd year.

Wander the streets and alley ways of the Christian Quarter and discover knights, princesses, dragons and other medieval characters.  Performances include flame throwers, sword fights, medieval dancing and other weird and wonderful acts.  This year the Festival is taking place in conjunction with artists from the Venice Festival.  Admission is free, for more information, click here.

Open House Jerusalem 2012

Also called “Houses from Within”, this event is every voyeur’s dream and is being held over the weekend of 25-27 October, 2012.  It will feature over 100 interesting public buildings, historical monuments and unique homes.  The event this year seems to be less focused on architecture and private homes and more on tours of neighborhoods and historical sites.  The weekend allows people to explore the hidden gems of the holy city from ancient ruins to contemporary buildings.

Sites on the outskirts of the city include a tour of the excavation site for the train tunnel into Jerusalem, the ancient village of Lifta and a house in a cave in Motza.

The Bishop`s Residence

In the center of town, you can see an exhibition of Anna’s Vienna at Ticho House, visit the Jerusalem Robbers Gallery on Rehov Yafo and The Bishop`s Residence on Rehov HaNevi`im.

Heading into East Jerusalem you can visit the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, take a tour From Damascus Gate to Herod`s Gate or discover the Burial Caves and Monuments on the Mount of Olives.

Zedekiah’s Cave

Old City sites include The Austrian Hospice in the Christian Quarter, Rabbi Getz`s House in the Jewish Quarter and a visit to Zedekiah’s Cave under the Muslim Quarter.

Heading west, take a tour of the unopened Waldorf Astoria Palace Hotel with the site foreman (reservation required) or the nearby Hebrew Union College.

There are various sites to visit in and around the Israel Museum and Givat Ram campus as well as the Ein Kerem area.

This year the event start on the Thursday and as well as additional tours during the day, there are also interesting night tours like Nighttime in Mahane Yehuda and Ghost Tour: Alternative Culture in Deserted Houses.

Full information on all the open houses can be found here.

Hamshushalayim

The Hamshushalayim events begin on December 6, 2012 will continue for four weekends in December.  Special events take place all over the city including street theater and guided tours.    Many of the city’s museums and other tourist sites are open to the public, free of charge until late at night.

Many of the city’s restaurants offer reduced priced set menus and there are also package weekend deals at hotels.  The website has not yet been update with this year’s schedule but keep checking here.