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Nestled in the heart of Ein Kerem - one of the city's most beautiful neighborhood - Anashim ("People") is a lovely restaurant for a good informal meal in the company of friends.
Sitting down on the outside terrace you feel like you've landed in a Tuscan village; Ein Kerem wins you over with a picturesque view of the beautiful churches, unique houses and narrow alleyways.
It's all about the ambience here. The dining room is spacious and comfortable, and the smell of delicious foccacias from the taboon oven adds homey warmth to this neighborhood oasis.
While this bread may have its origin in Italy, it certainly feels at home on menus here in Jerusalem. Anashim offers more than 10 variations topped with spices, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, tapanade and cheeses. This flatbread, made on the premises, is related to modern pizza, and its name is derived from the Latin word meaning hearth.
In fact, everything in this Mediterranean eatery reminds you of somewhere else, but remixed and matched to thrilling, original effect.
The menu is quite extensive with a wide array of salads, sandwiches, seafood and meat dishes. Portions are big and you might consider sharing them.
For an appetizer try the chicken liver with fried onion, sweet potato, apple, and walnuts (NIS 46). Lavished in a red wine sauce it is hearty enough even for a main course.
The chef's salad is equally tasty with a bed of green leaves, roasted peppers in balsamic sauce, and a generous portion of saut ed duck breast to adorn (NIS 44).
You can't go wrong with a main course of chicken fajita (NIS 64). Fried with vegetables, chili and coriander, it arrives at the table on a sizzling platter, with tortillas and two tasty dips of salsa and guacamole.
Not everything is perfect though. Certain dishes hit and miss at the same time; the ravioli I ordered (NIS 46) was undercooked, and raw garlic was plunked at the bottom of the bowl. But the stuffing of goat cheese and eggplant in thyme butter and tomatoes was terrific.
Desserts were good but nothing special. We tried a rich Belgian chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (NIS 28), and the tart tatin (NIS 28), which was mildly disappointing. The coffee, though, was excellent.
All in all the food and ambience in Anashim are easy to like, and I guess everyone would like a restaurant like this in their neighborhood.
Anashim. 73 Ein Karem Road. Open Sunday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Business lunch is served on Sunday through Thursday from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Tel: 641-7430 (not kosher)