Kosher, classy and creative

Jerusalem’s elegant 1868 restaurant offers a sumptuous, sophisticated menu with innovative dishes.

1968 restaurant 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
1968 restaurant 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When dining out, I find that I prefer classy but homey rather than formal, and I found that blend in the 1868 restaurant. The building, one of the first built outside the Old City walls of Jerusalem in 1868, has been transformed into a quaint, elegant restaurant on King David Street.
We were greeted upon arrival by the owners Yonatan (the manager) and Jacob (the chef). They politely offered us the option of ordering a regular meal or the tasting menu. We chose the latter. Both partners worked as staff in the restaurant before jointly taking it over a year ago, hoping to fulfill their dream of owning a modern, world-class restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem.
Believing we could easily handle our dinner, we settled in as Yonatan poured us each a glass of 2009 Gewürztraminer. We were quickly humbled, as the many dishes and innovative recipes we encountered surpassed our already high expectations.
First in line was the grilled corn soup (NIS 39), after which we were served yellow fin tuna tartar (NIS 56) and calf sweetbreads (59 NIS) – both delicious.
We then had beef fillet carpaccio (NIS 48) and roasted foie gras ( NIS 98) – both superb. To restore our palates to their former state, we were treated to a small frozen slush made of plums cooked in red wine and cloves. It was mild, gentle and refreshing.
We were then served Atlantic salmon fillet (NIS 92) and an incredible melt-in-your-mouth sea bass (NIS 119). Already stuffed to the gills (us, not the fish), we sent a message to the kitchen requesting, in utter apology, smaller portions because we knew we simply would not be able to consume much more.
Our waitress obliged but teasingly warned that we would find it difficult to resist the temptation of trying everything.
Likewise, the kitchen must have doubted our incapacity to eat more because the main course arrived in full portions. We had an entrecote hamburger (NIS 86) and duck breast (NIS 125). The hamburger was accompanied by an adorable miniature cast-iron pot filled with a delicious sauce. The duck was brilliantly presented and absolutely delightful.
After laboring intensively in the kitchen on our never-ending stream of dishes, the chef finally joined us at our table for a chitchat. With no formal training, Jacob gained his experience in various restaurants in London and New York. He explained how he tries to include all the food groups within one dish and constantly seeks ways to cater to those clients who desire a classy environment but affordable dishes.
Jacob animatedly explained that when shopping for dishware, he feels like a kid in a toy store. He is always on the lookout for uniquely designed tableware and then considers how to create a course that is appropriate to each plate.
After attempting to finish our dessert (chocolate fudge and a bowl of skinned plums in hot sauce), we bade our hosts farewell. As we reflected on our more-than satisfactory experience, we agreed that running a high-class restaurant and preparing sophisticated dishes is no small task, especially for Yonatan and Jacob – both only in their late 20s.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Kosher. Open Sun.- Thurs. 12 -15 p.m. Friday: Private parties by reservation only. Sat. night: One hour after Shabbat until 11:30 p.m. 10 King David St., Jerusalem (02) 622-2312