Tzidkiyahu: The Talpiot restaurant steps up its game - review

The service is always outstanding. Some of the servers stay for years because of the good salary and tips.

Tzidkiyahu's dazzling array of food (photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)
Tzidkiyahu's dazzling array of food
(photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)

There’s almost always a line to get into Tzidkiyahu in Talpiot, even if you’ve made a reservation, but now waiting is much more pleasant. There are ice buckets with kosher cava (the poor man’s champagne) at the entrance for anyone waiting and even proper champagne flutes. It might even be worth coming early and hanging out here for a while! I won’t bring my Ladies Who Drink group or the restaurant will lose money on us!

I reviewed Tzidkiyahu almost exactly a year ago, when restaurants first reopened after yet another lockdown. When I was invited to taste some of the new dishes they’ve added to the menu, I happily agreed. I have long maintained that steakiyot or grill restaurants are great value for money. They’re not cheap, but all of the salads and fresh bread are included, meaning you don’t need to order a first course. When you finish the review, you’ll want to order a first course too.

One change is an extensive alcohol menu that includes seven very reasonably priced cocktails (NIS 35–NIS 38). Manager Ede Abadi, enthusiastic even after six years of working at the restaurant, asked me what I like to drink, and made me an off-the-menu cocktail with vodka and red fruits that was delicious. My 18-year-old son, Mishael, had Captain Tzikdi with rum, pineapple and ginger beer.” A great way to start the meal.

Before the cocktail arrived, 12 salads magically appeared on the table. And lest you think that the speed was because they knew we were doing a review, Mishael timed how long it took the other tables to get their salads and it was usually under a minute. The salads are served with freshly baked laffa straight from the tabun. I dare you to try to skip the bread!

The salads are all fresh and well-spiced. Of the 12 salads, which are cheerfully refilled even before they are empty, one is different each day. In our case, it was a corn, red pepper and dill salad that was fresh and crunchy. My favorites are the eggplant and mayonnaise salad, and the coleslaw. Unlike other steakiyot, Tzidkiyahu also serves falafel, fresh chips, rice and beans. Hummus is not included, although tehina is one of the salads offered. I immediately moved the chips as far away from me as possible to limit their damage (and the number of hours I would need to go to the gym next week).

 A rainbow over open land in the Jerusalem neighborhood of North Talpiot before it was turned into an apartment complex. (credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ) A rainbow over open land in the Jerusalem neighborhood of North Talpiot before it was turned into an apartment complex. (credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ)

Now, here is where I let you down, my legions of readers. Along with the salads, our friendly waiter Doron brought several of the new first courses for us to try, including chopped liver with crushed pistachios on top (NIS 28). I promise that I really really meant to try all of the salads, but somehow my fork kept sneaking back to the chopped liver. Now my husband makes a mean chopped liver and even my son who is very loyal to his father’s cooking said, “Don’t tell Abba, but this is even better than his.” It’s creamy and delicious and the pistachio adds a nice crunch.

We also had hummus and fried cauliflower in tehina, both of which were very good, but man, that chopped liver.

NOW, FOR the meat. The standard portion of two skewers is NIS 94 for kebab, pargiyot, and hearts, and NIS 88 for liver and chicken breast. You can also order one skewer for NIS 75 or just the salads for NIS 65, a great option for vegetarians. While this is not fast-food, I think it’s great value for money. The meat is very good quality and the portion is ample.

The manager Eden told us not to order as he wanted to bring us something special. And he fulfilled his promise with a meat platter for two (NIS 380) that had some of my favorite things on the planet to eat.

There was an entrecote steak that was good but not great. It had been cooked to medium, while I prefer my meat medium rare, and had more fat than I like. But the other meats on the platter made up for it. There was goose liver, which I absolutely love, and which has recently doubled in price in the butcher shop, shekedei egel (sweetbreads) and mallard breast (again one of my favorite things). There were also merguez sausages, which I didn’t touch because I was too full, but my son enjoyed the kebabs (“these are excellent Mom”) and pargiyot. All told, 800 grams of meat was served, which was more than enough for two hungry people, even if one of them is a teenager.

For non-meat eaters, there are salmon skewers (NIS 120 for two) and for the gourmands among you there is filet mignon from Nebraska (NIS 196 for two), a butchers cut (NIS 140 for two) and several other steaks. My husband also loves their meurav of chicken, hearts and spleen.

If you have any room left at this point, there are several desserts, including a delicious pavlova with cream and red fruits on top.

The crowd is mixed in age and apparent religious observance, and the vibe is just fun. About every ten minutes or so, there’s a birthday celebration in which the music gets loud, and the servers come and put sombreros on everyone’s head, while singing Happy Birthday in several languages. At about the same frequency, the servers share a chaser of arak. (Maybe they need the shots after all those birthday songs?)

The service is always outstanding. Some of the servers stay for years because of the good salary and tips.

“I do the hiring and more important to me than experience is someone who can do a six-hour shift with a smile on his face,” said Eden. “I want someone who can interact with the customers and make sure they have a good experience.”

I certainly did and I look forward to going back.

TzidkiyahuYad Harutzim 21Open: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.–11 p.m.Open Saturday night an hour after Shabbat ends.02-673-3309Reservations: highly recommended.Kashrut: Jerusalem Rabbanut, although much of the meat is Halak Beit Yosef.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.