Ruhan: A ticking flavor time bomb - review

The restaurant will be open and kosher for Passover, but will then start opening on Friday nights, meaning it will no longer have a kashrut certificate.

 Ruhan Brasserie and Cocktail Bar (photo credit: KARELA)
Ruhan Brasserie and Cocktail Bar
(photo credit: KARELA)

Over the past few months, my Facebook feed has had frequent references to Ruhan, a new cocktail and tapas bar in the swanky Brown hotel in downtown Jerusalem. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and was pleased to get the opportunity last week. It was also a belated birthday celebration for my favorite (and only) daughter Rafaella.

But (and this is a big one), the restaurant will be open and kosher for Passover, but will then start opening on Friday nights, meaning it will no longer have a kashrut certificate. Chef Shachar Yogev says that the restaurant’s identity is still being formed and it might remain dairy or might start serving meat as well. Usually restaurants in Jerusalem go the other way – switching from non-kosher to kosher due to Jerusalem’s large kosher-keeping population.

After trying Ruhan, I am quite disappointed about the projected change. Maybe if enough of us protest, they will change their mind. Anyway, Ruhan is a fun place with unique cocktails and food, and it’s worth making an effort to get there.

The restaurant is beautifully decorated with seating available both inside and out. Inside you can sit at the bar, at a regular table or on a couch. There is even a cool toy to play with. On each table is a brass object that looks like a dumbbell. By tapping the top, you can make the lights at the table stronger or dimmer.

Ruhan has a fun vibe with a mix of young people on dates and mature guests like me. The service is excellent, with a staff that really knows the menu and wants you to have a good time. The menu was created by Orel Kimche (of Popina fame in Tel Aviv), along with Shachar Yogev.

 Ruhan Brasserie and Cocktail Bar (credit: KARELA) Ruhan Brasserie and Cocktail Bar (credit: KARELA)

“Our food is all about the raw materials,” Yoge told me. “We want to use the best raw materials and let them shine.”

There is a list of ten cocktails although the barmen will also make you a personalized drink based on your preferences. My daughter and I each chose a cocktail off the menu. She chose the Queen Bee (NIS 48) which was Bombay Gin infused with oregano, honey syrup, lemon and fresh ginger and I went for The Forbidden Fruit (NiS 56) which was Bacardi 8 rum, Amaro Montenegro, Pineapple syrup, fresh lime juice, yellow grapefruit and angostura bitters. Both were excellent.

The food items are meant to be shared and range in price from NIS 29 to NIS 96. Some of the dishes are relatively small portions, others are larger. We tasted a good portion of the menu and with one exception, each dish was delicious.

We started off with sourdough bread and dips. The bread is not made in-house but the dips, and just about everything else, is made in-house.

The meal offered me an opportunity to cross something off my bucket list – tasting 3-D printed “meat” by Redefine Meat. It was used in a delicious stuffed cabbage and the meat tasted like Beyond Meat, another meat substitute. But, the fact that this was made on a 3-D printer was cool.

There were two dishes that were simply outstanding – the first was a fish tartar served on brioche with a homemade jalapeno jam (NIS 72) and the other was homemade cheese-stuffed tortellini (NIS 81) in a beurre-blanc sauce that I wish I could have for dinner tonight.

The only dish I didn’t enjoy was a fish stuffed with cheese, which was strange.

There is an extensive wine list of Israeli wines offered at fair prices. The sommelier, Michael, is passionate about wine and well-versed in the menu. We had a somewhat geeky wine conversation that left us both happy.

Overall, a great dining and drinking experience.

Ruhan Brasserie and Cocktail BarHillel 41 (in Brown JLM hotel)Hours: Sunday-Friday 8 a.m.–11 a.m.Monday-Thursday 7 p.m. – midnightKashrut: Tzohar

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.