(photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)
Knowing a thing or two about the Jerusalem culinary scene, I can attest to the difficulty of finding a high-concept kosher meat restaurant where everyone knows what they’re doing. One person who has succeeded in establishing such a place is Moti Ohana, chef of the popular restaurant Hachatzer.
Walking into Hachatzer, the atmosphere is both informal and stylish – warm, busy and surprisingly sophisticated. The spacious dining room is a perfect marriage of contemporary and old Jerusalem style.
Chef Ohana wanted my dining companion and me to get a good understanding of what the restaurant has to offer, so after we provided a little guidance as to our likes and dislikes, we were brought a parade of tastes. The menu offers a little bit of every major kosher meat group, as well as fish and vegetarian options. What ties them all together is the quality of the food, which is based on what’s in season.
The tasty dishes are complemented by the finest selection of wines, both local and international.
After we sat down, our enthusiastic waitress began to bring us a selection of salads and dips that came with homemade foccacia (NIS 56). These included tehina, creamed eggplant with date honey, and matbucha. While we could have easily filled up on the tasty spreads and salads, we made an executive decision to stop and leave room for the next course.
We were then served the endive salad (NIS 46). Endive is a notoriously difficult vegetable for those unfamiliar with it. Though fragile in appearance, it has a rather bitter taste. Here, the endive was finely sliced and served in a mound with arugula, pears, grilled beets and candied pecans and a sauce that mellowed the bitterness without submerging it.
Next up was red tuna, salmon and sea bream ceviche (NIS 64) served with seasonal fruit, coriander, chili, radish and green onion. I’m a sucker for a good ceviche, and Hachatzer delivers that. It was a delicious fusion of sweet, spicy and citric. The fish in the ceviche was very fresh, and the sauce was potent and flavorful without overpowering the fish.
This was followed by a beef carpaccio (NIS 52), which was done perfectly. The beef was sliced thin and flavorful, with a smoky finish – all the flavors really cured the rawness of the beef. I also loved how the candied pistachios added to the delicate flavor of the carpaccio.
After a bit of a breather, it was on to the mains. We began with the grilled salmon in an Asian vinaigrette glaze (NIS 102). The fish was perfectly cooked, with crispy slightly burnt outer edges and juicy melt-inyour- mouth flesh underneath. It came with flavorful shimeji mushrooms and green beans.
This was followed by the sea bream fillet (NIS 106) served on a bed of creamy polenta. The fillet was seared beautifully golden brown with a touch of crispness.
When I put my fork through the layers of the fish, the fillet broke nicely and was tender to the taste.
The polenta was delicious, and the texture of the fish was silky smooth.
Next up was the gnocchi (NIS 104) with goose liver, smoked goose breast, sweetbreads and root vegetable cream. The gnocchi was divine – light, airy, fluffy. There were pieces of goose breast that had obviously been cooked in the sauce for a very long time because it was oh so tender and so tasty.
We were already bursting at the seams, but Ohana insisted that we try the special of the day, which consisted of a 600-gram Nebraska entrecote served with marrow bone. The meat was moist, well seasoned and had a nice, juicy chew. However, after a few bites, we were done. My dining partner took the rest to go and thoroughly enjoyed it the following day.
To finish our dinner, we tried a sample plate of different desserts that included some delicious sorbet, meringue and a few chocolate treats.
My dining partner and I were very pleased with the food and left the restaurant feeling very happy and satiated.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Hachatzer Kosher 7 Derech Beit Lehem, Jerusalem Tel: (02) 671-9922