February 9, 2012
Spice up your Jerusalem experience
Even though the sap begins to rise on Tu B’Shevat, colder temperatures continue can drag on in Jerusalem for weeks, if not months. That means finding the right place to drop in and warm up at some of the city’s most appealing restaurants. To satisfy your need to feed, this tasting tour of winter-time options, with prices ranging from low to high, shows you where to get fed and get cozy. And because we’re talking about the Holy City, each of these establishments answers to a higher authority. When it’s kosher you’ll want, it’s kosher you’ll get.
The open-air market Shuk Mahane Yehuda and its surroundings are packed with eateries. Few, however, claim the longstanding history of Sima’s. Dating back to 1969 and run today by Sima’s great-nephews, the Guri brothers, this typical Israeli grill is just minutes on foot from the legendary shuk’s frenetic energy. You could, of course, opt for the meat sizzling on open grills. But the low-cost option of savory kube-beet soup is packed with beets, onions, celery greens and two semolina dumplings stuffed with ground beef. A serving comes with warm pita and your choice of two mini dishes of innovative salads. Recommended: tangy lentils with mint and cumin, and fresh carrots with walnuts and celery root.
82 Agrippas St. (02) 623-3002. ($)
Inspired by the novel by Israel Nobel Laureate Shai Agnon, the combination bookstore-cafe Tmol Shilshom is a down-to-earth feast for mind and mouth. Specialties include shakshuka, the classic stewed tomato and egg dish; salmon in a subtle white wine and fig sauce with sides of spinach, potatoes and portobello mushrooms; and thick sweet potato soup, good to the last drop. A delicious hot sahlab dessert, with rosewater, dulce de leche, banana, shredded coconut, walnuts and raisins, is served in a tea glass — complete with a Tmol Shilshom logo metal cage handle also available for purchase. But the piece de resistance is the Nevo & Ofri, warm Belgian-chocolate tart with hazelnut and nougat crèmes. Named for co-owner David Erlich’s twin children, this dessert never disappoints. With a high-cacao content, flaky pastry shell, whimsical seasonal garnishes, such as apple or pear slices, strawberry coulis, homemade granola and vanilla ice cream, how could it?
5 Yoel Solomon St., near the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall. (02) 623-2758. tmol-shilshom.co.il. ($$)
Minutes from the downtown light-rail station, Beit Ticho is technically part of the Israel Museum. This former residence of benefactor Anna Ticho features a rotating exhibit of her original paintings. The downstairs Little Jerusalem restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, with heat lamps to ward off the chill. Mushrooms dishes, including a delectable hot appetizer with fresh arugula, complement the signature French onion soup. Topped with Parmesan cheese, it is served in a toasted whole-grain bread bowl worth slathering with fresh butter. Schedule your visit on a Tuesday evening for delicious live jazz and late gallery hours.
9 HaRav Kook St. (02) 624-4186. ($$)
Off the Walls
At the historic Confederation House, Te’enim (Hebrew for figs) serves light vegetarian dishes amid stone walls, high ceilings and spectacular views. Picture peanut tofu skewers with quinoa; baked goat cheese with fresh greens, almonds, mint, cucumbers and seasonal fruits; and an Indian twist on a Middle Eastern Mahajara Majadarra. Filling lentils and wheat berries are laced with cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric as well as cooling raita and spice-rich chutney. Call in advance to reserve a prime window seat with postcard views of the Old City walls, and pair your visit with live shows in the on-site theater space.