Monday, July 4, 2011

Two Jerusalem Dairy Restaurants

Thanks to my my brave and generous in-laws, my husband and I are on vacation right now!  I'm still reminiscing about our gustatory delights yesterday, so I thought I'd share.
Lemonana
For lunch we went to Rimon, which a friend had highly recommended.  It has a great location in the Mamilla shopping center with a balcony overlooking Jerusalem city center.  The large indoor and outdoor seating was very full on this summer Sunday afternoon, and thank G-d, there was a large outdoor non-smoking area.  Unfortunately, the smokers got the best tables along the terrace.  The menu was pretty standard for an Israeli dairy cafe.  The pesto in my husband's quesadilla was excellent.  I would definitely recommend anything with pesto. 
The prices were also very reasonable.  We spent about 130 NIS ($38) for fresh squeezed orange juice, a slushed "lemonana" (lemonade with mint) and two entrees that came with salad.  In general I thought the meals lacked a gourmet touch or balance of flavors.  The tomato sauce on top of my spinach lasagna was ketchupy, the topping was skimpy on cheese, and the filling was a boring, homogeneous mix of frozen spinach and ricotta cheese.  Bottom line, the food was tasty for a simple cafe, but did not meet my expectations based on recommendations and the fancy setting.  My husband felt differently.  He said his quesadilla was excellent, came with lots of fries, and he was very impressed with the service since they were so crowded. 
Jerusalem was fully redeemed over dinner.  We walked around the Ben Yehuda Street area, then headed down Shimon Ben Shatah Street, a lovely pedestrian alley, where we found a selection of restaurants and pubs.  After peeking at a couple menus we chose Gabriela Cucina, the sister restaurant to Gabriel, the meat chef's restaurant next door.  If I knew the food would be so good, I would have taken pictures before we started eating!  Ordering was a tough choice, with a unique selection of ravioli, including asparagus, goat cheese, sweet potato, or quattro formaggio (four cheese), homemade gnocchi (potato dumplings), and red-striped mullet on a bed of risotto.  Chef Jacques Dayan designed every dish with artistic genius.  Below are some of my favorite excerpts from the menu (prices in shekels).  I was impressed by the array of sauces and vegetable combinations.  And they weren't out of anything on the menu!  I have a real knack for ordering whatever the kitchen doesn't have. 
The atmosphere inside and out was simple and beautiful.  The portions were great, luxurious, but not ridiculous.  Neither of us completely finished our plate, but I wouldn't have wanted anything less.  I ordered the Salmon Paparedelle (about $22) with cream and basil sauce.  I liked that the pasta was amply coated, but not swimming in the sauce.  I always feel bad when I'm left with a big bowl of cream sauce after finishing my pasta.  I thought the generous proportion of salmon to pasta was excellent.  It was perfectly cooked and the size pieces went perfectly with the extra wide noodles.  The whole dish was full of flavor.
I was excited when my husband ordered the "Forell (Trout) Stuffed with feta cheese and spring onions wrapped in a pate feuilletee (flaky dough).  Served with zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, and kalamate olives with basil and Salsa Rosa sauce."  (About $28.)  Despite my reservations, the flaky dough was not over the top.  It was thin and just enough to keep the fish moist and add another layer for flavor and texture to this rich dish.  I suspect that that eggplant replaced the zucchini listed on the menu, but everything was in balance.  It was one of those dishes where you really want to get a little of everything in every bite, and every bite was incredible!



Both restaurants are Kosher L'Mehadrin as of July 2011.  Gabriela has many choices that do not mix fish and dairy.   

Check out my reviews of Sheyan and Katzefet. You may also enjoy my posts on the Balabasta Festival and Shvil Izzim - Goats Path Restaurant.

3 comments:

  1. wish I new about these restaurants a few days ago when I visited Jerusalem. Great review.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this review and plan on checking out Gabriela Cucina next time I'm in the area- thanks

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  3. Thanks for the reviews! I want to check out GC soon. Rimon is for comfort foods like toasts; you summed up its shortcomings well. There's an art to ordering there, which is why I don't like to take guests there.

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