Cod with citrus sauce (food) 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Walking down the busy street of Derech Hebron in Jerusalem with cars rushing by, you could easily pass by Simone’s small storefront with its hand-painted sign. As far as curb appeal goes, there is very little that would intrigue the passer-by. But once you walk through the gate on the side, you enter a charming courtyard with a pergola that Claude, the owner, built himself.
There were a few small tables and chairs set up, and then Claude took us to the back and up a set of stairs to their garden, where they play bocce ball and set up tables for special events and their Friday brunches.
The atmosphere within the tiny restaurant itself is artsy and eclectic,
with hand-painted orange walls and small wooden tables. Despite being
French and everything that connotes, Simone is hip without being
pretentious. The restaurant exudes charm, and it is clear that the
owners are not just creating a restaurant but a destination, with
regulars who come in as much for the warmth and friendship as for the
food. The dairy restaurant is kosher le’mehadrin because the owners
want to have an environment where everyone is welcome to come and eat.
eat there you must! Claude and his wife, Simone, the restaurant’s chef,
came to Israel from France 30 years ago, bringing with them their love
of great French food from Provence and the skill needed to prepare the
region’s specialty dishes.
We started our meal with the Salade
de Provence (NIS 59). This was a large dish with green salad and
artichoke hearts in the center and small dips around the outside. While
not all strictly French, the dips were a nice change from the standard
. The dips included pesto, walnut
cheese dip and a delicious sardine salad. We also had a small bowl of
chestnut soup, which had a full-bodied, earthy taste, topped with cream
To clear our palates, we were served trou-normand
(NIS 49), an apple sorbet with calvados, an apple brandy from the
Normandy region of France. The sorbet was light and sweet, and the
calvados gave just the slightest kick, leaving us refreshed and ready
to continue our meal.
Next we had the pièce de résistance – a
large steaming bowl of bouillabaisse (NIS 109). Simone is the only
place that I have ever seen in Israel that serves a kosher version of
this French fish soup. While Claude admits that there are sacrifices
that need to be made because you cannot use shellfish, he assures me
that their bouillabaisse is a favorite at the French Embassy, where
they cater events. The flavors of the fish were artfully blended to
create a full but light broth. Pieces of fish, both large and small,
shimmered in the soup and gently broke apart at the touch of my spoon.
to be outdone, the next course we had was cod with citrus sauce (NIS
89). While the name may be underwhelming, the dish itself was a
delight. The cod was moist and tender, but the real surprise was the
citrus sauce. It was creamy and thick but not heavy, with a citrus
flavor that was strong but not tart. I asked Simone if she would tell
me more about it. Unfortunately, the recipe is top secret, and I
couldn’t even squeeze a clue out of her.
My dining partner is
a meat and potatoes kind of guy but remarked that this was the first
time that he ever felt full from fish alone. I enjoyed the meal because
although I was totally satiated, the food was light enough that I could
taste everything without leaving the table feeling heavy or weighed
When dessert was brought out, I wanted to politely
decline. It looked fabulous but I didn’t want anything to interfere
with the myriad of flavors that I had just experienced. Thankfully, my
dining partner was game, so we had a slice of lemon meringue pie (NIS
32) and a piece of chocolate espresso mousse cake (NIS 32). As it turns
out, along with being a superb cook, Simone is also a formidable pastry
Topping off the meal with a shot of espresso (NIS 8), my
dining companion and I agreed that we would be back because one visit
was just not enough.Simone, Rehov Derech Hebron 49, Jerusalem. (02) 672-9950. Kosher le’mehadrin.