From its humble beginnings as a wine and cheese stall in Mahaneh Yehuda market, Basher blossomed into a well-known delicacies shop with a wide-ranging, global selection. Since its opening on 2012’s Independence Day, its satellite Basher Resto-Cheese Bar has also become something of a Jerusalem institution.
While the capital has come a long way in the past few years in terms of nightlife, especially with the resurgence of the shuk, there was a need for more upscale venues.
Basher, on Agrippas Street in the heart of the capital, has filled that void. First reviewed by The Jerusalem Post last year shortly after its opening, I recently had the pleasure of sampling some of its new goodies.
Encased in the building’s original Jerusalem stone, Basher’s intimate upstairs – with seating at the bar or at tables, my favorites being the ones in front of the large picture window – and its romantic, cave-like downstairs both benefit from the muted lighting. Contributing to the elegant hush is the furniture, which is fashioned from beautiful woods.
Basher has branched out into the boutique winemaking industry, and its house brand – which will be sold by the bottle in fromageries across the country as well as at the shuk, and is priced in-house at NIS 32 a glass – did not disappoint. Its Carignan-Merlot blend, made out of the Israeli Argaman grape, was fullbodied, fruity and surprisingly light – and unlike most reds, did not leave me sleepy. The Basher white blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling was crisp and refreshing, and would be a good counterpart to all types of food. For those wanting other varieties, the extensive wine list is still on offer, with over 100 types of wine, and even some luxury bottles in the thousands-of-shekels range.
Basher stocks over 50 cheeses from all over the world, and my dining companion and I started the edible portion of our experience with a melt-in-your mouth beet carpaccio with cheddar (a change from the original goat cheese), Syrian olive oil and roasted nuts. Next was a roquefort bruschetta with sun-dried tomatoes, which will delight lovers of blue cheese, and crusty French bread with basil and tomatoes, which was garden-fresh and earthy.
We then feasted on the outrageously delicious three-cheese fondue with white wine, accompanied by a dipping platter of baguettes, potatoes and a variety of tart, sliced fruit such as apples and peaches. Decadent and lush, it will haunt our dreams for a while to come.
The caramelized onion quiche with its buttery crust had a dense sweetness to it that was equally delectable. While we liked the mushroom quiche and found it wellmade, it didn’t quite measure up to the previous rich dishes.
Our next dish, gnocchi filled with pesto and chili gouda, served in a choice of sauces, was hearty and tasty. The sheet pasta combined with salmon in a cream sauce was clearly fresh.
The fluffy, classic cheesecake, with a butter crust and a side of house jam, was the perfect end to our memorable meal.
Exciting things are happening at Basher. Coming attractions include a new kitchen with a woodburning pizza oven. Jazz nights as well as Tuesday night wine tastings have already begun. The restaurant also has a new lunch menu, with a three-course meal and glass of wine beginning at NIS 58, or NIS 100 for two. Entree options, depending on price range, include shakshuka, pasta with fish balls or Denis.
Basher Resto-Cheese Bar, 21 Agrippas Street, Jerusalem. Kosher. (02) 534-0400. Sunday – Thursday: Noon to last customer. Friday: 10 a.m. to one hour before Shabbat. Saturday night: One hour after Shabbat ends. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.