Lara's theme

The menu offers the perennials on the kosher restaurant scene, with some welcome surprises.

Fish dish 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Fish dish 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rehov Shimon Ben-Shetah, a short pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem, is a charming blend of the city’s different identities. Bars and non-kosher restaurants represent its secular side, and an old synagogue tucked away behind a metal gate symbolizes the historical, religious city. The local branch of Bituah Leumi is a reminder that this is also the country’s bureaucratic capital.
One of the newest kids on the block is Lara, a seven-month-old kosher restaurant run by chef Lior Haftzadi. On a biting cold night we tried out the restaurant’s new spring menu, which Haftzadi describes as “Israeli”; not a complete revamp of the old menu, but with more of a warm-weather feel.
The menu offers some of the perennials on the kosher restaurant scene but with some surprises thrown in, such as glazed tongue and fresh sardines. Everything is spruced up with fresh fruits and vegetables for a touch of spring.
We decided to try both the fish and meat options. To start, we shared fresh fish sashimi with roasted onions, tomatoes and fresh snow peas (NIS 48) and sirloin carpaccio (NIS 49). The sashimi was fairly bland but was complemented by the robust flavors of the accompaniments. By contrast, the carpaccio dish was refreshingly tangy. Served with nuts, cranberries, mushrooms, pickled lemons and fresh herbs, the result was a surprising blend of flavors that left you wanting more.
The fresh sea fish with green herb risotto I sampled for entree (NIS 102) was perfectly cooked, and the risotto was creamy and bursting with flavor.
Across the table, the butcher’s cut was well received (NIS 104). A cut not usually found here, it was served medium rare and sliced. The bone marrow served alongside it, complete with bone and spoon, was not for the faint hearted and shunned by my companion. More used to such curiosities and not hampered by his British niceties, I dug in.
Already stuffed but with a commitment to testing the entire menu for research purposes, we ordered dessert. The offerings are in line with what you would expect at a kosher meat chef’s restaurant: multifaceted creations using parve ingredients. The layered brownie cube with coffee and praline mousse (NIS 44) was rich but unremarkable. The apple cobbler my dining partner sampled was actually more like a pie with a crumble topping (NIS 38); no complaints there. The best part of the dessert, however, was the coconut sorbet that accompanied it.
I polished it off, and it was the perfect end to a satisfying meal.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Lara Rehov Shimon Ben-Shetah 3, Jerusalem Kosher Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 6 p.m. to 12 midnight. Saturday night, opens a half hour after Shabbat. Telephone: (02) 537-0701