A date to remember

At 1868 in Jerusalem, every meal becomes a special occasion.

A date to remember  (photo credit: Courtesy)
A date to remember
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When I first entered the restaurant to schedule a tasting evening, chef Jacob Turjeman was calmly cutting out circles of dough for ravioli. I greatly appreciate the effort put forth for any dish, no matter how easy it may seem, as I have been known to experiment in my kitchen, and even the most basic recipes can flop. I am small potatoes in this case; Turjeman, chef and owner of 1868 for the last three years, is the big cheese.
At 1868, the Ys have it: Yannai on aperitif and wine accompaniments, Yasmin on food knowledge and service, and Yankele on taste and design.
I cannot say it enough: This evening was magical.
Every morsel of food tastefully blended together. The textures of the foods melded seamlessly. There were no extraneous sauces or accompaniments. The music, lighting and general ambience were complementary. Atlantic gray sea salt was present on the table in a paisley shaped vessel. Not once did my friend nor I use salt with our meal. There was simply no need. Perfect.
Yannai brought my dining partner and me a bit of cava and cassis to start, and Yasmin soon followed with an amuse bouche of the chef’s lamb kofta. Paper-thin nigella and flaxseed-topped crackers delicately spiced with shata peppers were the highlight of the basket of on-site baked breads. We would have bought some on the spot if they had been available for purchase.
We then sampled two velvety soups – a white onion soup with crisped lamb, and a pumpkin with a hint of vanilla bean. The latter, accompanied by black garlic spread with baby basil leaves on crisp toast, is one of the new dishes featured on the winter menu, now in full swing.
Eating locally grown food in season is supposedly part of a healthier lifestyle, as is the motto “Everything in moderation.” This menu reflected both these ideas beautifully.
Three flawless appetizer plates arrived at our table: Atlantic salmon ceviche with yuzu (East Asian citrus) vinaigrette, persimmon and pickled radishes; beef fillet tartare in strawberry broth, with avocado crème, crispy yolk and Jerusalem artichoke foam; and the tongue in cheek dish, which appealed to my punny side and, surprisingly, to my palate as well.
Two of the three entrees stayed mostly at my place setting, while the duck pastrami (smoked with eucalyptus leaf in-house) was mainly enjoyed by my friend. The duck was served with a pineapple ginger stock, sage and pumpkin ravioli, and celeriac puree. I relished in both the slow-cooked lamb and seared cauliflower on raisin sauce and black sesame tehina, and the fillet of bass. The fish with fennel crème, a roasted beet and citrus zabaglione had a color and flavor accent of citrus sections. The bites with the red grapefruit and orange were the most flavorful.
Dessert was an experience. Everything was made on site: lemongrass honey gels, strawberry cream tart, lemon meringue, hazelnut macarons, and more… all on a two-tiered silver dessert sampler tray. The pièce de résistance was the chocolate egg filled with aerated Valrhona chocolate mousse and topped and surrounded with assorted treats: frozen lemon marshmallows, cocoa beans, pineapple caviar, Amarena cherry gels and brightly hued edible flowers.
Sounds like a marketing plug, though I loved this meal just that much: “No need to wait for a holiday or joyous event, this meal is the special occasion.”
Appetizers range from NIS 49 – 68. Entrees range from NIS 89 – 162. The chef’s tasting menu: NIS 295 per diner. Wine tasting menu of five wines: NIS 175 per diner.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Kosher 10 King David St., Jerusalem Tel. (02) 622-2312 Sunday – Thursday 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – private events. Saturday night, one hour after Shabbat ends.
To schedule private events, view the seasonal menus and make reservations, go to 1868.co.il.