Restaurants & Bars

Middle East & Africa

Jerusalem Restaurant Report (Part I)


Restaurants & Bars Middle East & Africa

Jerusalem Restaurant Report (Part I)

Indy 67 | | Jan 6, 2009 11:52 AM

We spent seven nights in Jerusalem at the Harmony Hotel, a very new reasonably-priced hotel in the Atlas Chain. This was our favorite hotel of our entire trip based on room size, services, and location, location, location.

The Harmony Hotel is situated on Yoel Moshe Salomon Street, a pedestrian street that radiates out from Ben Yehuda at Zion Square. Our Tel Aviv based taxi driver had a horrific time finding the place on the drive from the airport. That experience made us doubt the wisdom of our hotel choice. However, beginning the next day, we had our choice confirmed. Salomon street proved to be an easy walk to the New Gate of the Old City, a modest walk to the Jaffa Gate, and a five -- ten minute walk to great eating.

Dolphin Yam, Adom, and Terra are located 5 minutes away near or on Ben Shetach.

Eucalyptus and Darna are located 10 minutes away in the other direction on Horkanos Street.

I'm going to split my report into two parts: The Ben Shetach restaurants in Part I and the Horkanos restaurants in Part II.

Dolphin Yam (Blue Dolphin) is considered to be the best fish/seafood place in Jerusalem. It is not kosher, a significant fact when looking for a place to eat Friday night dinner in an observant city like Jerusalem. (Saturday dinner is no problem in Jerusalem as long as you're prepared to eat late in summer because of late sunsets. For our winter visit, sunset was quite early -- just before 5:00 p.m. No problem since we were eating between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.)

We ate our first and last meals in Jerusalem at Dolphin. The mezze are wonderful, with our favorite being the vinaigrette cole slaw. In fact, we got seconds on a couple of these so we could have some vegetables with the fish entrees. My husband ordered the mixed fish platter that included a filet of St. Peter's (AKA Tilapia), gray mullet, and Drumfish. I ordered the grilled calamari with Caper and Lemon sauce. His dish was flawlessly executed; the fish were moist and delicious. My dish was marred by too may capers or undrained capers with the result that the sauce was simply too salty. Since the calamari was tender and superbly grilled, I rescued the situation by scraping most of the sauce away and squeezing the generous lemon wedge over the shellfish. Delish.

Our second meal was an unqualified success. Both my husband and I ordered Drumfish. We were offered a choice between two sauces: one that sounded suspiciously like the too-salty sauce I had had previously and a crab and garlic option. When I couldn't make up my mind, our server offered to being me both. In fact, although my husband had ordered the crab sauce, he was given both sauces, too. Incidentally, the crab sauce was more to our taste, although, frankly, the fish was so amazingly fresh and well-cooked that it required no embellishment.

The wait staff was uniformly pleasant and capable. At the end of the second meal, when I asked for recommendations about places to get Israeli jelly-filled doughnuts since it was the first candle of Chanukah, the restaurant surprised us by giving us doughnuts gratis.

Our meal at Adom was good, but nothing more -- certainly not memorable. I can't even recall anything I ate that night. I'm confident it was a fish preparation since I rarely order meat or poultry. I didn't remember my husband's entree either, I found Adom's menu online and recognized his choice: beef stew in black beer over root vegetables. In fact, the dish was served over mashed potatoes only. I would have expected more variety in the vegetable accompaniment given the "root vegetable" label. He enjoyed his meal more than I did. Actually, I do remember one from the meal was the bread. It was extremely good -- a brown bread with a faintly sweet taste.

We dined at Terra restaurant on Friday night. This was a lovely meal. We began by sharing an order consisting of a single large ravioli in tomato sauce and an order of calamari stuffed with seafood and feta. The second dish was exquisite. The filling in the ravioli and the accompanying tomato sauce were both very tasty, but the pasta wrap was very amateurish. The dough was much too thick. I ate one of the daily specials: drumfish filet over a bed of eggplant. Lovely. My husband had a goose dish that he enjoyed.

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