Jerusalem moved from the plaza at Leslie and Shepaprd a bit south to the plaza at Leslie and Nymark. I would go to the Sheppard location with anticipation and leave disappointed, 9 to 12 months would pass, and and the cycle would repeat. I tried the new location for the first time recently and even returned a couple of times because I currently am alone in Toronto and maraud for a good meal. Not an event, but a good meal.
I love "Middle -eastern" (Arabic, Turk, Persian etc) cooking; the flavours, its diverse ingredients and its equal respect to vegetarian dishes. The Jerusalem buffet looks great . It could be one of the best meals in town and a big bargain. The problem is that the kitchen doesn't know how to cook and cheats in wrong places. Good ingredients are spoiled and almost each and every dish is screwed up and not pleasurable. I am left with the feeilng "It's my fault, I should have known better"
In part the reason is cultural. The owners are Palestinian and Palestinian cooking is the clumsiest and most boring, from Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan all the way Morocco, in my experience, such as it is. But Palestinian cooking can be quite alright albeit not dazzling, if it is honest, fresh and sensible..
The exquisite flavouring and refinement of Lebanese cooking simply isn't in Palestinian cooking. So Jerusalem has no idea how to dress a salad or to marinade, nor is there consistency in the failure. But there is more to it than just cooking culture; the dressings and marinades are not complicated. However there is no possibilty of success because Jerusalem saves money in the wrong place. It uses The Bottle rather than lemon juice; the difference is between Kool aid and wine. Jerusalem uses some sort of cooking oil instead of olive oil, ibid.
So the the fatoush salad was clobberd with too much spice and a coarse dressing, the tabouleh was clobbered with The Bottle and twice the oil was rancid. Every other salad suffers in its own way . The grilled vegetables were too oily and with an unpleasant oil. The hummus tasted green, which may be a style but it is not pleasant. Far better is to toast the chickpeas. The babganoush tasted sour , I thought that something had spoiled. And it goes on. Even the pickled turnip is as if done by the dishwasher. The pita which you might want with the salads is the worst pita- I have ever had- like thick, tasteless cellulose.
The lentil soup has improved. The flavouring is clumsy, but at least it no longer is reminiscent of hospital food. The fish dishes are simply brutalized. The roast lamb I guess was boiled before it was roasted. The roast beef has been tenderized into tasteless fluff. Chicken is good but oily. Indeed oil is a problem in general.
A couple times there had been too much salt in almost everything that I tried; I have never experienced this elsewhere.
I could go on, but there is no point. But I should note that what might succeed is ruined because Jerusalem took along its practice from the old location: the pans are too big
and there is too much food in the pans. The food sits around too long and gets clobbered. Partially empty pans have more food put on top. Good luck hunting.
Prices vary with the day of the week. I found that it is best to go for lunch at $10.98. The selection is reduced and there is less opportunity to be aggravated, and at the price less reason. But even at their top prices of $24.95 for holiday weekend dinner it would still be a bargain if the food were good, and disappointment does not have a price low enough. Don't go on Monday. I think that they serve the weekend's leftovers and the food doesn't hold up.
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