Canela cleans-up

One of Jerusalem’s kosher treasures, this chef’s restaurant blends tastes and textures to achieve success.

It’s not everyday one gets invited to the anniversary dinner of a renowned French restaurant such as Canela. I’ve heard this establishment is popular amongst VIPs, politicians and businessmen alike, but was it a good place to eat? As the restaurant has been around for over four years, I assumed it was more than just a passing fad.
I had arrived to what was indeed a special event – the place was bustling, the live classical orchestra was humming, and the friendly greeting from the maître d’ was warm and inviting. Nice way to kick things off.
The restaurant itself consists of a main dining room (where we were seated), a bar area and an upstairs dining room, offering function menus and privacy for any event. The scene now was set for a tantalizing taste bud experience. The quality of the ambiance, décor and service thus far seemed apparent but could the food live up to my expectations?
The first entrée was a sea fish sashimi. The infusion of coriander, pine nuts and shallots helped complement the subtle texture and flavors of the raw fish, and the dish was mildly salted, which I enjoyed very much.
Next entrée was duck comfit and despite my great anticipation I was rudely disappointed. The duck was a tad overdone, giving it a bit of a tough, chewy texture, and the glaze was overly sweetened. I would’ve liked something more subtle and more complex, to let the natural flavor of the duck shine through. I soon decided to forget the dish and looked forward to what was next.
While waiting for the third entrée we were showered with sides like smoked eggplant dip, pomegranate salad and semi-dried tomato bread, which all tasted flavorsome and fresh.
The next dish was far more successful, consisting of a delectable goose liver accompanied by an in-house brioche and a white wine with spice sauce. The liver was velvety smooth, grilled to perfection and elegantly presented. The white wine sauce was delicate in taste and subtle in spice – this was superb.
The combination of fish, weighty beans and Jerusalem artichoke mash formed a perfectly balanced, delicious combo. The seared fish was expertly cooked to a very pleasing texture – flaky, firm yet yielding. The mash was a meal in itself and the beans provided color and nourishment. My most favorite dish by far.
From here I was expecting dessert, but to my surprise I was served up an entrecote steak; being South African I was now a very happy diner. The meat was moist, well seasoned, and possessed a nice, juicy chew. I also appreciated the savory beef flavor accented by the red wine sauce and truffle purée. Complements to the chef!
Talking of dessert: we were served a chocolate fondue cake and strawberry sabayon. I especially enjoyed the richness of the sauce and light tartness of the strawberries. Nice way to close out the meal.
The dinner was a success. Though not every dish was a hit, there were no blatant misses either; it was a cohesive, balanced meal created with masterful use of the sweet/savory interplay.
I came into Canela with pretty high expectations, and much to my surprise, they were met, perhaps even exceeded. This restaurant offers a fresh approach to fine dining in a street filled with fast food, cafes and familiar bar food. So when you’re looking to combine a gourmet, elegant atmosphere and nearly faultless service, you’ll find that Canela has it covered.
Open Sunday-Thursday, noon to 3:30 p.m. (business lunch) and 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday evenings from one hour after Shabbat ends. Rehov Shlomzion Hamalka 8. (02) 622-2293. Kosher.