Entrecote: An excellent restaurant with an absence of serving spoons

Entrecote is not only elegant but expensive, and its clientele consists mainly of haredim.

 Entrecote (photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
(photo credit: STEVE LINDE)

Anyone seeking proof that generalization is a form of fake news, will find a convincing example of evidence to that effect if they visit Entrecote, an elegant restaurant at the entrance to a high tech industrial zone in Jerusalem. Entrecote is not only elegant but expensive, and its clientele consists mainly of haredim.

We were three friends, one of whom is married to a vegetarian, but who occasionally gives way to his carnivorous instincts. He has a passion for lamb, and so another of our trio telephoned numerous Jerusalem restaurants to enquire if lamb was on the menu. Some said it wasn’t, and others said that they’d run out. But the people at Entrecote declared that together with steak, it was one of their specialties.

Our previous experiences with restaurants that cater to a haredi clientele was that they were understated enterprises, where the food was tasty and the prices uncostly. For example, my dinner party of two had eaten cholent, kishke (stuffed derma) served on throw-away plates and soft drinks, and the bill came to NIS 75. At Entrecote, the bill for our party of three came to NIS 820. That’s when a credit card came in handy, though the handsome tip was paid in cash. 

None of us had eaten there before and we anticipated that, despite its name, Entrecote might be much the same as some other eateries we have experienced. We could not have been more wrong.

When we entered Entrecote, which seats 120 people, it was almost full. Long before we finished our fantastically delicious meal, there were people standing in line, waiting for a vacant table. Our trio were the only non-haredi diners at that time. We could not help but notice how the black and white décor blended with the black and white attire of most of the diners, who comprised married couples, small groups (including students from a Beit Rivka religious school) and men who had obviously come to talk business over dinner.

 Entrecote (credit: STEVE LINDE) Entrecote (credit: STEVE LINDE)

The high ceiling was black with white beams and the ceiling-to-floor curtains were white. Tables were covered with black table cloths and white table napkins. Depending on the course, plates were either black or white. The all-male staff of waiters were dressed in black trousers, t-shirts and wore black kippot. They were friendly, efficient and eager to please. We had four different waiters attending to our needs and continuously checking if we were satisfied. The same happened at every other table.

We began with what is usually referred to as mezza in Middle Eastern cuisine, though the cuisine at Entrecote is distinctly Ashkenazi. However, two completely different eggplant offerings from the array of salads did have a somewhat North African flavor. They came with two, freshly baked, large, Italian-style buns, but looking around we noticed a variety of other breads and rolls. The menu is extensive and expensive, even though we had come for the lamb, it took us a while to scan the entire menu to see if there were more temping dishes to excite our palates. There were six lamb choices: “Lamb Asado,” NIS 189, “Lamb Rib Chops,” NIS 229, “Lamb Kebabs,” NIS 139, “Lamb Tagine” consisting of a shoulder of lamb on a bed of couscous, NIS 189, “Lamb Neck in Chardonnay and mushroom sauce,” NIS 179, and “Combo Burger of coal seared beef and lamb,” NIS 149. Two of our party settled for the lamb rib chops, while the third ordered medium-rare entrecote steak, NIS 229. He gave me a large piece of his steak in exchange for a rib chop and we each sighed in bliss. The steak was unbelievably soft and mouth-watering, and the inside was truly rare. The chops were a joy to my Australian palate. The third member of our party was so enamored with the chops, that he could not resist eating with his hands so his teeth could bite into the meat right to the bone.

The three plates arrived with the barest of side dishes, but seconds later, a whole tray of salads, a plate of mixed peppers, a bowl of gently flavored rice and a bowl of serrated chips, which were more in the nature of potato crisps than French fries, but soft, rather than crispy, were set out in front of us.

Since poultry is so easily obtainable in Israel, I seldom order chicken or turkey dishes in a restaurant, but for those who happen to favor chicken over beef or lamb, there’s “Chicken breast” or “Viennese Chicken Schnitzel,” NIS 129, “Pullet Steak,” NIS 139, “Chicken livers on a bed of fried onions,” NIS 139 and “Chicken livers in mushrooms and wine,” NIS 169.

In the beef section, in addition to the entrecote steak, there were seven other options, the most expensive of which was “Tomahawk steak on the bone,” NIS 369.

There’s also an excellent choice of appetizers, which we had to decline because, after seeing how full the plates were at other tables, we wanted to be capable of eating what we’d come for.

We were too bloated for any of the large variety of desserts, which included parve cheese cake. I remember the first time I ate parve cheese cake in New York; it tasted so much like the real thing, I asked the restaurant proprietor if he was sure his restaurant was kosher. To taste it at Entrecote will require another visit. Maybe on that occasion we’ll just order appetizers and desserts.

Nothing in this world is perfect and as much as we enjoyed the Entrecote experience; however, there was an absence of serving spoons, which meant that some diners had put their forks into the salad dishes after first having put their forks in their mouths. That’s not a very healthy thing to do at the best of times, and certainly not during the COVID-19 crisis.

Entrecote1 Hamarpe Street,Har HotzvimJerusalemTelephone: 053-8094720Open Sunday – Thursday 12 pm to 11 pm.Kosher Mehadrin, under the supervision of Rabbi Avraham Rubin