Everything from soup to nuts
Racha in Jerusalem offers hearty kosher Georgian cuisine in a lively, convivial atmosphere.
Racha Photo: Courtesy
You’d better like to eat food with nuts in it if you go to Racha. As
long as you do, you’ll find it a fine dining experience. If not? Well,
there’s always some scintillating grilled meats available.
would be a shame to go that route because the Racha experience is based
on traditional food from Georgia, and the popular, family-run downtown
Jerusalem eatery has recreated not only the delicacies but also the
authentic ambience of Racha, an area in the northwest corner of Georgia.
And that means lots of chopped nuts and herbs in practically every
Housed in two former storerooms dating from the British
Mandate period, the restaurant, with old world carpets and chandeliers,
offers an inviting step back in time.
But there’s nothing outdated about the cuisine.
the Georgian tradition of abundant and infinite hospitality, the
Shimshelashvili family has designed a menu straight out of their home.
Based on the recipes of his grandmother, chef Yisrael and his sister
Lili operate Racha like it was their home and the diners their personal
guests. At night, the atmosphere can get quite lively, with large
parties downing shots of vodka, and live Georgian music sparking dancing
But earlier in the evening, the focus was
solely on food. Among the tasty and recommended starters native to Racha
– the region and the restaurant – that the helpful and attentive staff
brought out were adzhazhili – roasted eggplant with onion, pomegranate,
nuts and herbs; agapsandali – spring stewed vegetables with nuts and
herbs; eggplant rolls filled with nuts and garnished with pomegranate
seeds; chicken kindezmary – chicken breast strips with a ground nut
sauce; and patrigani – eggplant layered and filled with (right, you
guessed it) nuts and herbs. They were all delicious, if a little similar
tasting. The prices for the starters ranged from NIS 16 to NIS 25.
more tantalizing were the homemade savory pastries such as chibureki –
fried crescents filled with spicy ground beef ; and khinkali – pockets
of dough stuffed with a classic Georgian meat mixture, including more of
those nuts and herbs. All the pastries cost NIS 34 – NIS 36.
now, our appetite was sufficiently aroused for the main course, and we
weren’t disappointed. Every culture seems to have its own version of
goulash, and the Georgian offering – salianka – was a tender, savory
mixture of meat, root vegetables and potatoes in a rich sauce that
demanded to be soaked up with the shutespuri homemade bread that was
brought to the table.
Other options include chanakhi – layers of
lamb with potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs; khalia – beef in
pomegranate sauce and onions; and prakilobio – green beans with lamb and
For those who prefer to stick with tried and tested,
the entrecote steak on skewers, with Georgian spices, was a perfect
choice, with grilled chicken skewers and lamb kebab being other grilled
options. Baked sea bream provided yet another possibility for those not
enthused by the Georgian specialties. All the main courses range from
NIS 78 to NIS 98.
Too full for dessert, we skipped the
traditional offerings of churchkela – sugar-coated hazelnuts in wine
pudding; and the similar pelamusi – wine pudding, jam and nuts. I guess
chocolate volcano cake didn’t make it to Racha, but it’s just as well.
The sampling of the Georgian treats ensured that we would be back again.
good news if you’re in the downtown area of Jerusalem and hungry for
lunch. Racha recently launched a business lunch menu from noon until 4
p.m., with meals ranging from NIS 79 to NIS 119. It includes a sampling
of the traditional salads and breads, a main course, dessert and
So there’s no reason not to give Racha a try – just be ready to eat a lot of nuts and herbs.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
6 Havatzelet St., Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 537-6600