Pundak Deluxe (pundak means “inn” in Hebrew) is only a couple of months old and the word is spreading fast. Real barbecue has finally arrived in Israel. For most of us there comes a time when we are really in the mood for meat. Not the casual roast beef sandwich, but a good cut of beef grilled to perfection. Pundak provides everything that the real meat seeker loves. Set in the heart of Jaffa’s supertrendy flea market, this old-school southern-style barbecue joint was founded by Adi Pasha and Oren Paniri, Raz Bracha and Uri Marmurstein. Marmurstein, who has visited New York many times, fell in love with the charms of Williamsburg – an urban and trendy area of the Big Apple that feature many nostalgic grill houses.
The meat is locally chosen – baby back ribs, turkey, entrecote, sausage, chicken and much more. Pundak believes in smoking meat (in an imported meat smoker) using the old-fashioned Low and Slow method. Smoking meat is an indirect cooking process in which the food is not prepared directly over the heat source. It is done at lower temperatures than grilling, with the cook maintaining the internal smoker temperature at about 100 degrees centigrade. Despite the lower temperatures involved, the goal is to cook the meat to a normal and safe amount. It takes longer to get there, but a perk of the system is that wood chips used in the process can impart a special flavor. The meat at Pundak, needless to say, tastes delicious.
Sitting at the bar, my dining companion and I were immediately served delicious cocktails to start, setting the tone for an evening of fine food.
For starters, we chose the chicken wings in a sweet marinade. Perfectly tender, the meat fell right off the bone. These wings made me want to get up and kiss the chef right on the nose. I would love to know what the special marinade is, as it greatly enhances the meat without detracting from its natural flavor. The sauce had the perfect combination of barbecue, sweetness and heat.
This was followed by one of the best duck breasts I’ve ever had. Cooked perfectly, rich, moist and flavorful, I’m drooling thinking about it now.
Most barbecue joints focus on the meat and serve average sides. However, the sides at Pundak are fantastic. Their macaroni and cheese is to die for. It is super cheesy without having that commercialprocessed taste. Also, their German potato salad is one of the best I’ve ever had. Other sides include cornon- the-cob, baked beans, coleslaw and fennel salad.
After a bit of a breather, we were presented with a meat platter fit for royalty that included beef ribs, turkey breast, tongue and sausage. We especially loved the turkey breast. It was smoky, juicy and amazing.
Another favorite was the ribs – served dry as all good barbecue should be – they’re fall-off-the-bone tender with a nice crispy texture on the outside. The ribs had a great smoky flavor that had infused itself throughout every bit of the meat. It’s a very distinct flavor and quite strong as I was still able to taste it several hours later. It had a good crispy bark, but not too much, honestly I would say it was the perfect amount.
Already bursting, we politely declined dessert but were informed by the table next to us that the cheesecake is a must. Fluffy, rich and creamy, it was worth every extra bite.
Overall, it was a great satisfying meal that really hit the spot after craving some real barbecue. This is not an elegant dining establishment. It is a place for serious meat eaters. I will definitely be coming here again.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Pundak Deluxe Not Kosher 7 Olei Zion Street, Jaffa (03) 523-318
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