Seems like old times

At the Harp of David restaurant in Jerusalem, everything is biblical but manna.

Harp of David restaurant (photo credit: Courtesy)
Harp of David restaurant
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With all due respect to Burger’s Bar and Holy Bagel, when people go to Jerusalem’s Old City, they want food that fits the biblical theme.
Both those places are great, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never ate a bagel, and Moses never had a a French fry. Thankfully, the Harp of David restaurant on Mount Zion near the Zion Gate parking lot recently opened to the public.
The historic building the restaurant is in was in no-man’s land between 1948 and 1967 when Jews were barred from entering the Old City. The bunkers from 1948 that are still there serve as a reminder.
“I had no interest in putting just another restaurant here,” says owner, artist Arik Pelzig. “This place has values. It was no-man’s land.
Now it is all-man’s land.”
The works of Pelzig’s father, Polish-German-Israeli-American sculptor Perli Pelzig, and Perli’s late wife, Yanni Fritsma, grace the walls of the restaurant. The view from the rooftop makes it an ideal site for tourists.
As would be expected in a place called Harp of David, a harpist is available upon request for celebrations. The restaurant has been open to the public since last May but only at lunch time between 11:30 and 3 p.m. Its kosher certification is Mehadrin out of the theme of making the building open to all.
The restaurant’s specialty is ingredients that were available during biblical times. But chefs Amit Cohen and Anat Lev-Ari do not shy away from exceptions to the rule, such as eggplant.
My dining partner and I were served several fresh salads, all of which accompany a full meal: These include homemade humous, tehina, roasted eggplant, bean dip, lentil-onion dip, root vegetables with grape vinegar, spinach with bulgur and a combination of carrots, chickpeas, hot peppers, lemon slices and coriander.
My favorite was the bulgur because of its flavorful lemony sauce. My dining partner preferred the root vegetable salad because the addition of crunchy seeds surprised him and added an extra layer of texture to the salad. Not as standard as it should be in Israel, the salads were served with ample bread for dipping into the salads.
We were then served baked tilapia, which was cooked with pickled lemon and field tomatoes that helped enhance rather than mask the flavor of the fish.
Regular diners must choose from several meat courses and side dishes, but we were served a varied assortment: aged meat stew with shiitaki mushrooms; lamb and lentil stew; meatballs with herb soup and Persian lemon; spring chicken with date syrup and oranges; and chicken pilaf with barley and wheat flakes with aromatic spices and buckwheat.
Though I generally don’t like mushrooms, my favorite was the meat stew because it had been marinated in red wine that made it soft and brought out the best in the meat. My dining partner, who prefers savory dishes, liked the lamb stew the best because the lamb and the lentils complemented each other.
The meal ended with refreshing mint tea and a halva parfait in kadaif pastry that was served with chocolate, nougat, rice crispies and English cream.
Perhaps when Moses and the Israelites ate manna in the desert, the food that fell from the heavens tasted this good.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Harp of David
Old City, Jerusalem