Getting down to business (lunch that is) at Sofia

Guest Post by Josh Kaplan, Jerusalem Comic and Food Connoisseur
Recently I was privileged to go to Sofia: the Sofia that I am referring to is not the region in northern Madagascar, nor to the bossa nova singer from the Philippines but Chef Moti Buchbut''s modern Italian Sofia restaurant at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel.
Set in the rear of the Hotel''s dining section, the restaurant overlooks Liberty Bell Park (Gan HaPa''amon) and had a very relaxed atmosphere. My dining partner and I started off with a drink- their signature lychee cocktail and a lemon Cipriani cocktail. Things were off to a great start. Next up were our pair of appetizers. Granted, it was an odd choice for a warm fall day in Israel (is there a fall in Israel?), but the onion soup proved to be a winner. Made with white wine, it was everything an onion soup should be. The only item we didn''t really enjoy was the Tuna Carpaccio. For some reason, it wasn''t sliced as thinly as we''d anticipated and had a bit of fishiness to it.
While the dishes were coming out, we were treated to an assortment of olive, butter, and sun-dried tomato spreads. Since my dining partner had recently developed a sesame allergy (can you imagine? No halva, no tehina in Israel! She is currently accepting flowers, balloons, and cuddly stuffed animals to console her), we asked our server for some bread without sesame seeds. Surprisingly, the little white rolls we received were just as tasty as the delicious multi-grain rolls - thumbs up for allergies!
When the main courses arrived, we knew we''d chosen wisely. The spinach stuffed cannelloni were rich. The rose sauce was that perfect combination of creamy and tangy, while the pasta was fresh and not over-stuffed. Even more exciting was the Baramundi (A free kilo of sesame seeds-but not to my dining partner- to whomever can identify what that is WITHOUT Googling). Give up? Referred to as Australian seabass, giant perch, and known as Barry to his friends, this fish is meaty - especially for a white fish. Covered in thinly sliced potato that were laid out to resemble fish scales and placed on a bed of mushroom risotto cooked with white wine, sweet potato cubes and finished with a maple caramel sauce, each bite was a delight.
And then there was dessert. Not that we weren''t stuffed at this point, but once we heard about their patented "magic" meringue, we couldn''t say no. Before I describe the meringue (I know, the suspense is killing you), I''ll tell you that the chocolate stuffed ravioli were delectable. These little fritters were served warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar and garnished with fruit. And then the ball dropped...  a baseball sized meringue ball. In the center was a passion fruit custard (the perfect blend of sweet and tart), whipped cream, and passion fruit sorbet. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.
Needless to say, we left Sofia (slowly) feeling like we''d been treated to a culinary adventure. The wait staff was friendly and attentive, the food was memorable, and I am already looking forward to my next visit.
Reviewer was a guest of the restaurant.
Josh Kaplan has been making audiences (verb) for (number) years. A proud member of Israel''s Improv Comedy group Hahafuch ( and, he enjoys long walks on the beach, a cozy night by the fire, and trips to (mysterious yet volatile Middle Eastern countries.)