(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.
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
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.