(photo credit: Courtesy)
Located in the American Colony Hotel in east Jerusalem in a historic arched shaped high-ceiling building that dates back to the 19th century, Arabesque is a European- Arab restaurant that fuses West and East. Situated on the border between eastern and western Jerusalem, it attracts local Arabs and Jews, tourists, diplomats and the international press. The décor and ambience are elegant, and the service is impeccable.
Arabesque’s menu is not very broad, but it includes a variety of food from European to Arabic cuisine – from filet mignon to shushbarak, and includes beef, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood, as well as some unusual dishes such as pigeon – an interesting blend. As the hotel serves as a hub for east Jerusalem aristocracy, as well as a meeting place for Israeli diplomats, the press and international celebrities, the restaurant tries to create an international menu with a medley of dishes to suit everyone’s palate.
As we sat down at the table, which was laid with a spotless white tablecloth in true elegant hotel style, we were served a bowl of pita and olive oil. The breads were the Arab type of thin dough, half white and half whole wheat and slightly sweet.
The waiter, who was fluent in English, Arabic and Hebrew, offered us drinks and was very meticulous with details, displaying an impressive knowledge of the characteristics of the wines on the extensive wine list.
There was a large selection of Israeli and foreign wines of all types (white, red and rose). However, the selection of wines by the glass or in smaller bottles was somewhat limited. We chose a bottle from the Tulip Winery called Just Cabernet 2016 (NIS 190). It is a Galilee wine, aged only six months. We found it to be round and pleasant, and it suited our meat dinner.
We started our meal with salad and soup. I ordered the salad of caramelized rosemary-roasted sweet potato with pumpkin, oyster mushrooms, chickpeas and tahini vinaigrette (NIS 55). The attractive bowlful featured a mixture of fresh arugula, watercress and Romaine lettuce with roasted potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and oyster mushrooms in a tasty dressing of vinaigrette and tahini. Its consistency resembled mayonnaise with a hint of tahini, not too overpowering.
My partner had the spinach and chickpea soup in a clear broth (NIS 35). The soup contained fresh spinach and although clear, it was very rich in flavor.
Our choice for the main course was Chateaubriand for two (NIS 380), described on the menu as thick tenderloin with a red wine demi-glace served with seasonal vegetables, French fries, and a pepper or mushroom sauce. It was served in a warm saucepan encircled by roasted vegetables of all colors – green, red, orange and yellow: roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, braised broccoli and flat greens. Alongside it came a bowl of French fries and two sauces – cream of mushroom and pepper sauce.
The meat arrived exactly as ordered – medium red-pink inside.
The beef was very tender and delicious with the sauces. The vegetables were wonderful – crisp greens and firm potatoes.
The Chateaubriand was a very large portion, and our appetite had been more than satisfied by the time we got to dessert. The dessert menu was rather small, and I surprised to see that there were no classic Arab desserts. However, there was a good selection of chocolate, fruit and dairy desserts. We ordered the warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream (NIS 35).
The pie had a thin crusty dough and an ample amount of warm cinnamon flavored apples, which went well with the cold ice cream. A very good ending to a wonderful meal.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Arabesque Not kosher American Colony Hotel 1 Louis Vincent St., Jerusalem Tel: (02) 627-9777