Harp of David restaurant.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With all due respect to Burger’s Bar and Holy Bagel, when people go to
Jerusalem’s Old City, they want food that fits the biblical theme.
those places are great, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never ate a bagel, and
Moses never had a a French fry. Thankfully, the Harp of David restaurant on
Mount Zion near the Zion Gate parking lot recently opened to the
The historic building the restaurant is in was in no-man’s land
between 1948 and 1967 when Jews were barred from entering the Old City. The
bunkers from 1948 that are still there serve as a reminder.
“I had no
interest in putting just another restaurant here,” says owner, artist Arik
Pelzig. “This place has values. It was no-man’s land.
Now it is all-man’s
The works of Pelzig’s father, Polish-German-Israeli-American
sculptor Perli Pelzig, and Perli’s late wife, Yanni Fritsma, grace the walls of
the restaurant. The view from the rooftop makes it an ideal site for
As would be expected in a place called Harp of David, a harpist
is available upon request for celebrations. The restaurant has been open to the
public since last May but only at lunch time between 11:30 and 3 p.m. Its kosher
certification is Mehadrin out of the theme of making the building open to
The restaurant’s specialty is ingredients that were available during
biblical times. But chefs Amit Cohen and Anat Lev-Ari do not shy away from
exceptions to the rule, such as eggplant.
My dining partner and I were
served several fresh salads, all of which accompany a full meal: These include
homemade humous, tehina, roasted eggplant, bean dip, lentil-onion dip, root
vegetables with grape vinegar, spinach with bulgur and a combination of carrots,
chickpeas, hot peppers, lemon slices and coriander.
My favorite was the
bulgur because of its flavorful lemony sauce. My dining partner preferred the
root vegetable salad because the addition of crunchy seeds surprised him and
added an extra layer of texture to the salad. Not as standard as it should be in
Israel, the salads were served with ample bread for dipping into the
We were then served baked tilapia, which was cooked with pickled
lemon and field tomatoes that helped enhance rather than mask the flavor of the
Regular diners must choose from several meat courses and side
dishes, but we were served a varied assortment: aged meat stew with shiitaki
mushrooms; lamb and lentil stew; meatballs with herb soup and Persian lemon;
spring chicken with date syrup and oranges; and chicken pilaf with barley and
wheat flakes with aromatic spices and buckwheat.
Though I generally don’t
like mushrooms, my favorite was the meat stew because it had been marinated in
red wine that made it soft and brought out the best in the meat. My dining
partner, who prefers savory dishes, liked the lamb stew the best because the
lamb and the lentils complemented each other.
The meal ended with
refreshing mint tea and a halva parfait in kadaif pastry that was served with
chocolate, nougat, rice crispies and English cream.
Perhaps when Moses
and the Israelites ate manna in the desert, the food that fell from the heavens
tasted this good.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Harp
of David Kosher Old City, Jerusalem