If you’re in the market for good food...

By SHOSHANA & ASAF AHARON
January 14, 2011 16:19

Casual but upscale, the Machaney’udah restaurant has cooked up a very appetizing concept.

4 minute read.



Veal

Veal 58. (photo credit: Gourmetkoshercooking)

On a recent Jerusalem night, we decided to finally see what the buzz was all about at the ultra-hip Machaney’udah restaurant, located just next to the shuk, Jerusalem’s central marketplace.

This concept restaurant is the combined effort of three experienced Jerusalem chefs –Yossi Elad of the Sak Kemach bakery in Mevaseret Zion, Uri Navon from Lavan at the Cinematheque, and Asaf Granit from Adom in the city center (and a champion of the Israeli version of Iron Chef). Upon entering the restaurant, we began to understand what an evening at Machaney’udah is all about. Red and white checkered tablecloths and an eclectic mix of vintage dishware hint at the casual atmosphere of this upscale dining experience.

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The open kitchen concept has been seen in other restaurants, but here it is combined with pantry items and produce shelved around the two-level seating area.

Kitchen staff might come by to pick up a few lemons or a new bottle of olive oil, enhancing the marketplace feel and proving just how fresh their ingredients are.

Though couples may prefer the bar-style seating in front of the kitchen or with a view from upstairs, as a group of four we were seated among the produce.

We opened the menu (printed daily) and with so many tempting options, we decided on the tasting menu (six course for NIS 185 or 10 course for NIS 350) to sample a variety of the chef's favorites.

It is important to note that although the restaurant is not kosher, one of our guests eats kosher style, and there were plenty of options on the menu (and the tasting menu) for her to enjoy. We ordered a bottle of staff-recommended Tzorah Misty Hills 2007, an Israeli Cabernet- Savignon and Syrah blend, to enjoy with our meal.

We began with amuse bouche (mini-appetizers), which included tuna tataki with strawberries, yellowtail sashimi with pineapple in basil gazpacho and our favorite, salted fish on toasted bread with sumac onions and yogurt sauce.

While the fruit and fish pairings were interesting (and very fresh), the unique blend of European and Mediterranean flavors was truly special.

Like any fine dining experience, the courses were appropriately spaced, with the table cleared and fresh plates brought each time by our friendly waiter. With the arrival of the appetizers, our dining adventure had truly begun. The polenta with buttered mushrooms, Parmesan and asparagus was the kosher-style favorite, served in a glass jar that we delved into with spoons to get every last scoop of this creamy delight. The unique combination of ingredients in the other appetizers were savored in the seared sirloin in leek cream with baby bok choy, calamari in pomegranate and garlic, and “chamshuka” – a combination of shakshuka and humous with ground beef, topped with a tehinayogurt sauce. The non-kosher favorite was large shrimp ravioli with bacon, creme fraiche and Parmesan.

As the courses progressed, the Israeli music in the background seemed to match our increasing anticipation for the main course, and more wine was poured. The music became even more upbeat, and more than one waiter could be caught singing along. Our main courses arrived – a variety of dishes that combined simple ingredients cooked together to bring out a well-balanced flavor. We enjoyed the deep-fried red snapper with lemon and garlic wrapped in vine leaves with a side of purple baby potatoes, mushroom risotto with garden cress, and the group favorites – oxtail stew over mashed potatoes, and the butcher’s cut beef with creamy polenta and bone marrow. The kosher-style mallard salad with red grapefruit, basil, and cooked small onions was a light, refreshing option, particularly after the many dishes already served.

As we reveled in this special dining experience, mint tea was served in a traditional Moroccan teapot and glasses. We were then presented with a three-tiered metal deep-dish dessert tray. The first tier had semolina cake bites surrounded by tehina ice cream, fresh figs, whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. The second tier had a delectable combination of chocolate ice cream and brownies, and the top tier bore homemade malabi with strawberry sauce and pistachios. Like the rest of the dishes served throughout the evening, each dessert was simple yet the freshness of the ingredients and the balance of the different flavors made each one delicious. The unique serving tray made sampling the desserts fun, and not only because everyone at the table could reach each dessert at the same time! With a series of inspired new tastes experienced, Machaney’udah had certainly validated the buzz it has garnered in Jerusalem and throughout the country. The quality of the fun, friendly and fresh-faced staff and the clean yet cozy, vintage atmosphere perfectly reflected this fine dining experience.

And with the menu changing daily, we will definitely be back for more!

Not Kosher.

The writers were guests of the restaurant.


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