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.

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.

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.

Wine n’ cheese all night long

Update: this restaurant has since closed.

Famous cheese importer’s Basher Resto-Cheese Bar boutique wine bar in the heart of Jerusalem is still going strong.

Basher Resto-Cheese Bar

Basher Resto-Cheese Bar Photo: Courtesy

From its humble beginnings as a wine and cheese stall in Mahaneh Yehuda market, Basher blossomed into a well-known delicacies shop with a wide-ranging, global selection. Since its opening on 2012’s Independence Day, its satellite Basher Resto-Cheese Bar has also become something of a Jerusalem institution.While the capital has come a long way in the past few years in terms of nightlife, especially withthe resurgence of theshuk, there was a need for more upscale venues.Basher, onAgrippas Street in the heart of the capital, has filled that void. First reviewed by The Jerusalem Post last year shortly after its opening, I recently had the pleasure of sampling some of its new goodies.Encased in the building’s original Jerusalem stone, Basher’s intimate upstairs – with seating at the bar or at tables, my favorites being the ones in front of the large picture window – and its romantic, cave-like downstairs both benefit from the muted lighting. Contributing to the elegant hush is the furniture, which is fashioned from beautiful woods.

Click here for the full review of Basher 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