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A charming restaurant on Rehov Hahavetzelet, Rachela (pronounced Rashela) is just across from Zion Square. The place may remind you of Chez Gita, with the dÃ©cor of glossy honey wallpaper, quaint light fixtures, and beautifully crafted dark wood tables and chairs that haven't been changed since Rachela moved in. A sense of welcome pervades the tea (plus food) house right down to the pink flowered sugar cube holders and their little tongs.
With a background in catering and certifications in cooking and baking from Hadassah College, this is Rachela Dabbah's first venture as restaurateur. Named for herself, Dabbah emphasizes giving a special touch to both establishment and menu, which includes many dairy delights and desserts as well as an Italian brick pizza oven (constructed by her husband) situated in the outside courtyard. Try the Neapolitan fresh pizza (NIS 35) that can be topped with anything from grilled vegetables to Bulgarian cheese (NIS 42).
Late-risers take note; breakfast is served until 4 p.m., which overlaps a business lunch. No matter what you order, all ingredients are fresh and nothing's artificial. No soup mix will be found here.
My dining partner and I arrived just at the start of the business lunch (served from noon to 6 p.m. which includes first course, main course and beverage). We were welcomed with soft overhead music, while one other duo finished up an early brunch, and a menu full of options.
I had the salmon steak (NIS 59). Perfectly pink and tender, it was accompanied by still crispy teriyaki veggies including string beans, carrots, onions and peppers. The salmon skin was a crunchy and delicious bonus. My dining partner had the lightly seasoned potato and broccoli quiche (NIS 49) finding it delicious despite the crust being dry. Little did we know, this was Rachela's intention, having prepared it to apparent perfection.
We also sampled two of their house soups (NIS 20/32): the lentil and the vegetable, served with bread. We slurped them up politely with satisfaction. Then came the Caesar salad (NIS 39) sans the anchovy. The whole roasted eggplant dish served with green tehina and a tomato salsa that has become a fast favorite for me since moving to Israel was equally tasty.
Stir-fried mushrooms in white wine and garlic (NIS 35) was a little too tangy for me but not my partner. And, a luscious dish called spinach almond cheese pattie (NIS 39), made with goat cheese, was nutty and creamy.
The restaurant boasts its menu to the lunch crowd with specials ranging from NIS 39-49, with a few upgrades for fish, beer or dessert. There are also sandwiches and pastas, handmade off the premises, on offer for NIS 39-55.
If it's just a nibble that you're after, there are many special sandwich combos for only 15 NIS.
To finish your meal, have a butter cookie with a cup of Ocha Tea. Just the smell samples let your imagination run free. The cakes and cookies should not be missed as Rachela makes them herself (even fruit preserves). And, just this once, order the cheesecake. It is divine.
Rachela - 5 Rehov Hahavetzelet, Jerusalem; (02) 6245613 is open Sun.-Thurs. from 9 a.m. till 10 p.m., Fri. from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Sat. from one hour after Sabbath ends till midnight; kosher. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.