Tag Archives: kosher

Breakfast in the Secret Garden of Beit Zayit: Derech Hagefen

logo_Derech_HagefenDerech Hagefen

20160803_100727The title of my blog post this week may sound a bit out there, but when my wife and I walked in to Derech Hagefen, we were in awe. For a moment, we felt like we were in the secret garden like right out of the movie. But lets/ take a step first and tell you where it is. Derech Hagefen (Kosher local Rabbanute) is one of two restaurants owned by the same owner and share the same concept: A combination of a green house and coffee shop\dairy restaurant. Derech Hagefen is located in Beit Zayit, a very quiet and green Moshav located at the footsteps of the Jerusalem 20160803_101055Mountains (right off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway). The other restaurant is called Cafe Itamar (review coming soon) located in Moshav Ora on the outskirts of Jerusalem. When I put the location into Waze, you really need to look for the coffee shop because most likely you will miss it like me the first time, but once you park in the parking lot and walk down the hill and get distracted by the dinosaur park you won’t miss it.

When you first walk into the restaurant, it doesn’t feel like a restaurant, 20160803_101828it feels like a nursery that you can purchase plans from. Once you are greeted by the hostess then you come back to realize, oh I’m in a restaurant. We sat down near the coy pond, and I have to mention that there is indoor and outdoor seating. On a hot summer day you can sit indoors with the A\C or sit outside where this beautiful stream of cool mist keeps you nice and cool (I can use one of those for my house!).

Now that we were comfortable and accommodated, we ordered breakfast (you can’t order off the regular menu until 12pm). My wife 20160803_101832ordered the Beit Zayit salad and I ordered the Beit Zayit breakfast which comes with a cold drink and a hot drink. While we were waiting, we noticed something funny, because the sound of the mist, you can’t hear anyone else conversation, but yours and that gave us an even more intimate experience even though we were outdoors with other diners.

Then the food comes, and let me tell you, it may be breakfast but it was impressive. The salad was huge, and came with lettuce, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, Parmesan aioli, goat cheese and so much more. 20160803_110015Iv’e seen thousands of salads in dairy restaurants, but this one, is definitely in my top 3. The creativity and taste really elevated the experience and added another reason to return for another meal. Then comes my breakfast, and omelet with everything but the kitchen sink in it: cheese, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, more cheese. It came with fresh-baked bread that they bake in-house and an Israeli salad that was seasoned to perfection. The other thing that I really like that they served was real butter. Yeah, real butter that is yellow and not a packet like you get in every generic coffee shop\dairy restaurant in Israel.

20160803_105955After almost filling up on the breakfast, I wanted to try one of their homemade desserts, so we tried a slice of cheesecake with a raspberry sauce. When the waiter brought it out sadly it had a hair right on top of it so I asked them to switch it. 5 minutes later they apologized and brought out an extra dessert on the house, for the inconvenience. They brought out a tiramisu and if you are a coffee lover, you will fall in love with this dessert. Then we dug into the cheesecake, which was divine. It really needed that sweet sauce to complement the sour taste of the cheese, it was the perfect balance.

From the service which was amazing, to the ambiance, to the food, the decor, the whole experience at Derech Hagefen was amazing. If you have never been or coming to Israel to visit, or looking for a unique place to go out to eat, you must try Derech Hagefen!

 

 

 

 

 

The Beef Bar Steakhouse behind IKEA in Netanya


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Beef Bar Netanaya

20160425_211310It happens to be a very rare to find a proper steakhouse in Israel, that the stars of the menu aren’t cuts of steak. Instead the are skewers serving chicken, turkey or beef, but not a proper steak. As I have said in the past that is the real meaning of a steakhouse, that the beef is king, and you don’t call it a stekiya, which is supposed to mean steak house but it’s really an Israeli type which bombard you with fresh salads and pitas, and everything is grilled on a stick. Not that I’m complaining, some of the best meals I have had in Israel are in steakiyot, but Beef Bar really lived up to it’s name.

First thing you see when you walk in, is the decor, a style you’d find in Texas. Leather covered booths, antlers on the walls. Not the typical decor of South American restaurants you’ll find in Israel, because there is nothing south american about the place. All the waiters are wearing uniforms, the bathrooms are clean and there’s an open kitchen.

Knowing that we’re off to a great start, I need to point out how many people we were. We went a party 5 adults and 3 kids eating there on the porch outside. Luckily it was a beautiful night so not many bugs and great weather.

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We started our meal off with a number of appetizers: A liver pate, carpaccio and chicken wings. We also ordered a 8f8d64d6f8204830a11fa5af994731d6nice bottle of Tavor wine to compliment the meat appetizers and mains to come. The appetizers came out pretty quickly and were plated beautifully. The carpaccio had pickled artichokes, green olives and a balsamic glaze to really compliment the thinly slices of fillet, really nice. The we moved on to the pate, which was one of the creamiest pate’s I have ever had. The only other pate dishes that tasted that good to me was at Hachatzer and at Jem’s. The plate was designed beautifully on a 20160425_201820tile with thin slices of toast, a beautiful dish. The wings were crispy on the outside, and the sauce was nicely balanced, between sweet and spicy, all the appetizers were big hits!

Moving on to the mains,  We ordered a lot of meat! There was a fillet, a couple of rib steaks, lamb chops, a New York sandwich, and I ordered something called Feedlot. Feedlot is premium Angus beef, that was aged in the restaurant for 28 days. I have never ordered a cut like that in a restaurant so I gave it a shot. We all ordered different side, but I went with a classic coleslaw 20160425_201835and mashed potatoes.

The meats came out all together and on cast iron pans to keep them warm  which was very professional in my opinion. Hot plates are very important if you are serving hot dishes. So how was the beef you ask? AMAZING! Every cut of beef was cooked to perfection with no mistakes. Very tender meat thanks to the dry aging, great marbling in the steak, and you can tell that they invest in the quality of beef. The lamb chops were tender and full of flavor, and the sandwich had a sauce on it that was finger licking good. The feedlot that I ordered did taste different than regular beef prime rib, very tender and delicious though! The sides were just as good as the mains, creamy mashed potatoes seasoned with just enough salt, and the coleslaw that was just the way it should be, a bit salty and sweet! Other things that caught my eye on the menu was the 1 kilo menu. Instead of ordering a bunch of steaks to order a kilo for the table, unless you’re really hungry, same for the kilo hamburger!

20160425_20473820160425_205338On the verge of a beef coma, my cousins wanted to try dessert. The owner recommended the chocolate mousse and a trio of sorbets. If you are a chocoholic, this mousse is for you. Super creamy, great chocolate flavor, a nice variety of sweet sauces to elevate the dish and a perfect crust to top it all off(even though the crust was on the bottom!). Again an amazing dessert, as for the trio of sorbets. Each one full of fruit flavor and vanilla, all the flavors were just delish!

Price wise, on the pricier side, but worth every penny. From the quality ingredients, to the amazing staff, all worth it. A real steakhouse experience that is pretty hard to find around Israel, and was definitely worth the trip!

A gem in Jem’s Petach Tikvah

3bdd9b16f7bd499fafafa64e9db816faJem’s

The first time I had even heard of Jem’s(Kosher rabbanute) was on the way to my bachelor party. My friends mentioned this bar that makes their own craft beer and serves kosher food that is all made from scratch, I got excited. This was 6 years ago and I had a merry time. Problem was I didn’t remember how good the food was because the beers were amazing! So I met up one Saturday night with my friend Mitch and wanted to try the one that was recently open in the new market of Kfar Saba. (They have another location in Ra’anana as well)When we got there we encountered a problem, it was first come first serve and the place was packed, and the waiting list was ridiculousness. So we took a detour and went to their original spot in Petach Tikvah. The same place I enjoyed my bachelors party. Really enjoyed!

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I was determined to get a table so I called on the way from Kfar Saba, and sort of gave them a guilt trip to letting us have a table. And it worked. So the hostess leads us to are table and we get our menu’s. The ambiance at Jem’s is a modern gastro-pub with very dim lighting and music that’s a bit loud. Big vats of fresh beer brewing everywhere, a foodies paradise.

Taking a look at the menu, I remembered last time I was there I ordered the variety of homemade sausages and onion rings, but didn’t remember what it tasted like so I ordered it again. Mitch ordered the half a BBQ chicken(he was loosing weight at the time and now is running marathons!) and we shared a plate of pate(chopped liver) with homemade pickles. Oh and of course we had to have the homemade brew! I had a pale ale as did Mitch.

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I was so happy when the food came! It looked so appetizing and guess what, it tasted just as good! The sausages had a great snap  and was packing really good meat flavors. The real deal, as were the onion rings, battered in a delicious crunchy coating that was a great compliment to the sausages. The beer was a great compliment to the sausages as well. The pate was one of the best I have had, it was creamy and full of flavor, and you can’t forget the homemade pickles that were just amazing. Mitch said the chicken was very flavorful and moist, and you need moist chicken otherwise it’s like eating plastic.

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It was a great meal that was a bit pricey, but if you are already going out to a place like this you might as well enjoy! Not many places like Jem’s and if you find yourself in the area of any of their locations, give it a try.

Jem’s, HaMagshimim St 15, Petah Tikva 03-919-5367

Sovah really is filling Shwarma in Bayit Ve’Gan

20151116_125423Sovah 

I went yesterday to visit a family relative of my wife’s in Bayit Ve’gan who is recovering from a light heart attack and thought, maybe I should take things down a notch with the food. So across the street from the apartment, there’s a bakery, a bank and a rec20151116_125525ently re-opened shwarmah joint called Sovah(kosher mehadrin, badatz, shmita lechumra). So obviously, heart attack=shwarmah so I went there to get a shwarmah for my wife and myself.

While ordering I saw them prepare their own shwarmah pit. I have to say, it was very impressive. Most shwarmah joints just order the meat ready to go on a spit and everything, so seeing them do this in-house was very impressive. Not only was it marinated in-house and stacked up nicely, they only use beef. almost everything there was prepared in-house, and for a greasy spoon in Bayit Ve’gan, that’s pretty impressive.

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When I buy a shwarma, I judge it in a couple of ways: First off is flavor of the meat. Is it dry, flavorful, spiced well. Then by the laffa bread: How thick is it, is it fresh. Then I check out the condiments, are they fresh, prepared in-house. Then the fries; are they store-bought or made in-house. And finally the girth of the whole thing. I mean is how they pack it up, the meat to condiment ratio that the meat has to be even or more than the sides going into the laffa, And lastly, if I can hold it in one hand or in two. Not many places hold up to my standards, but if you do find a place  like that, go back for another because you won’t find many like that around.

So I ordere20151116_133357d myself a classic shwarma; chummus, salad, pickles, coleslaw, tehini a hint of heat and hand cut fries from real potatoes and of course the meaty goodness, and boy did they stand up to my expectations. The meat was seasoned perfectly, it was moist and full of flavor. the salads and condiments were really good and fresh and the laffa was very light. The only downfall of this was like in most shwarmah joints that cut their own fries is that they only fry them once. It’s disappointing because then the fries are limp, soft and soggy. All they have to do is fry them again and it makes such a difference. Otherwise it is a great shwarma and one of Jerusalem’s best in my opinion, and there a are a lot so that’s saying something. The guy’s behind the counter were nice and it was a really great lunch experience.

 

Sovah, Hapisga 17 st. Bayit Ve’gan, Jerusalem

A Dinner for two at Tommy’s

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Tommy’s is a small and cool venue located on Keren Kayemet st in the heart of Jerusalem. The reason I found this little joint is because I happened to have stumbled upon a Facebook contest that they where holding. And I won a dinner for two at the restaurant, So the one night me and my wife had free, (literally) and went to check it out.

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Tommy’s is a small hole in the wall type of joint that make most of the food in house, like the salads and sides. The seating area is located outdoors but there is still an element of privacy because there are no seats on the street, mainly on the patio.

So we looked at the menu, and it really emphasized the name of the place” sophisticated street food”. Everything they serve has a little twist and isn’t your run of the mill fast food joint. The menu is composed mainly of grilled meats, but also have different types of dishes on their specials menu. The chef also made it clear that they cook their hamburgers on the flattop, and that got me excited!

After browsing the menu and talking to the chef about what to order, we ordered a hot pullet salad(pargiyot) salad, an entricote hamburger,  for the sides we ordered a blooming onion that’s made in-house, and sweet potato fries with pink lemonade.

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Because i’m a gentelmen I’ll start with what my wife ordered. The pargiyot saladwas really good. It wasn’t your run of the mill salad with just chicken and vegetable, it came with bulgar, arugula, sweet potato,  and the chicken itself stood out by being packed with flavor. One of the better salads I’ve had at a fast food restaurant. The entricote burger was done like I asked, medium. It was very juicy and full of meaty goodness. I asked for some coleslaw on the  side and it made the burger taste even better. The sides were a bit dissapionting though. The blooming onion was a mess and very hard to eat and lacked seasoning. The sweet potato fries weren’t crispy, it needed to be fried twice like a pomme fritte otherwise it just gets soggy, like in our case. what really rounded out the meal was the pink lemonade that was perfectly mixed and had a great balance between sweet and sour like a good lemonade should have.

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All in all it was a very good experience and you will find me returning there to enjoy another meal. but trying  different things too!

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An all you can eat festival at the Inbal Hotel

IMGL4813This past week I was invited by the Inbal Hotel to come and review their pop-up restaurant based in the courtyard of the hotel(Kosher mehadrin). The Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem is going through many changes: building new rooms, renovating the old ones and having a new head chef orchestrate  the massive amounts of food that gets served, on a daily basis. For a chance to win a dinner for two at the restaurant, there’s a great contest going on between the Inbal Hotel and Itraveljerusalem, the city’s official tourism division. For more info, click here. The contest is until Aug 10th so hurry up and tag away!

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Now back to the Inbal. The Head chefs name is Nir Elkayam, a very passionate chef who loves to take classic dishes from around the world and give them a Middle Eastern spin on them. I was very lucky to sit down with him and talk about food in Israel and at the hotel in specific. When I asked him, what’s behind the concept of the pop up restaurant, his answer was: The idea is to have a fun culinary experience, not to be to fancy and just to enjoy the purity of barbecued meats. Here is a recipe he shared with me for his sweet potato salad that he serves at the restaurant:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sweet potatoes sliced into wedges
  • 1 red onion sliced into wedges
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • pecans for crunch

Recipe:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 230c.
  2. Place the Sweet potatoes and red onions in separate baking trays and sprinkle the salt, pepper and olive oil over and put them in the oven. Let bake for 18 minutes.
  3. Let cool down and add the pecans and sweet chili for garnish.IMGL4909

The concept is for 190 shekels, you get an all you can eat barbecue experience with six types of meat and a plethora of salads. We sat in the courtyard of the hotel which gives you that backyard feeling to the meal, but with real dishes and tablecloths, live music and the service that is top-notch.

We sat down and started with the salads: Asian eggplant, fresh-baked focaccia bread, artichoke salad, sweet potato basil salad, home fries and the list goes on. Very fresh and very tasty, each salad stood on it’s own and was unique and presented well.  After the salads came the meats. We were offered two types of chicken: the breast and the pargit(thigh meat off the bone). The chicken breast coated with a simple herb blend was very moist, which impressed me because it’s very easy to dry out. The pargit had and Asian flare to it and was nice. Then came the kebabs and chorizo. The kebab had a kick to it but the chorizo didn’t. They were very standard. Then came the short ribs and entrecote steak. The short ribs were good but lacked seasoning as well as the steak, but when you add either the mustard sauce or chimichurri to them it elevated the dish to another level. For dessert we were served watermelon which was nice as well. All in all the meat experience was nice but very standard.

IMGL4787The pop up is open until after sukkot(late September). All in all it was a very nice experience if you are looking for a different type of dinner in a very nice location with outstanding service, so go and enjoy!

 

A carnivores dream sandwich at Carne

wpid-wp-1434487103200   Carne Carne is a fun place for foodie who enjoy two things: a great sandwich, and really good beef. Carne has been able to create this match made in heaven. The only competition that I see that they really is Just Meat on the Ben Yehudah Midrachov, but I feel that they are very different in approach and in price. Carne (rabbanut Yerushalayim) is run by two young guys who like to make sandwiches, and make sure the customers are happy. For the full experience you need to let them build you the sandwich, let the artists do their work. Located in an alley between Ben Sira street and Ben Shatach street, the restaurant is very small, not to many places to sit, but you can either sit on one of the 2 tables outside, or on the bar. The menu there is pretty simple: Entricote, chicken, homemade sausages and for those who for some reason don’t eat meat, they have a grilled portobello sandwich as well. The regular sides of fries, potato wedges and onion rings, but they didn’t have onion rings available the day I went. 20150615_122528 I met a foodie friend from my Israeli Foodies group group Neil Gillman who also has a blog, and a great perspective on food and life. We decided to order 2 sandwiches and try the: Entricote and the homemade sausages with a side of fries and potato wedges. I feel that any time a restaurant offers something made in-house like potato wedges, they will always be better than something frozen or processed. We also asked the owner to make the sandwiches with the whatever he thinks is best. 20150615_122250So, how good can a sandwich be? Um, amazing! Well the entricote was amazing. The meat was full of flavor and cooked really nicely, the gepata bun with a nice crunch on the outside, the fresh vegetables and really nice sauces to compliment it all. The homemade sausages had very nice texture but the sandwich itself was lacking. It was missing that kick you get from spice in the sausage, and he didn’t put in mustard. Once we added a bit of heat it took it to a much higher level. Sometimes all a sandwich needs, is a nice kick in the taste buds! The fries were generic but the wedges were very nice. Oh , and the gherkins(the really small pickles) were a delightful compliment to the sandwich as well. The prices weren’t bad as well. To get a very fulfilling and satisfying meal for 60 shekel in my opinion is very reasonable. In my opinion, Carne offers a really great sandwich for those who are looking for some really great street food!20150615_122535