Garden Terrace: A pleasant place, but too many potatoes - review

Luncheon downstairs a few weeks earlier had not been a great success, with little on the menu to fit the image of a luxury hotel.

 ENTRECOTE BURGER with Aioli and crispy potato. (photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
ENTRECOTE BURGER with Aioli and crispy potato.
(photo credit: STEVE LINDE)

To be honest, expectations in advance of sampling the new summer menu at the Garden Terrace tapas bar of the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria were not particularly high.

Luncheon downstairs a few weeks earlier had not been a great success, with little on the menu to fit the image of a luxury hotel.

There were three of us on that occasion, and because of the paucity of tempting dishes on the menu, we all ordered fish and chips. The chips were so plentiful that we all left some in our bowls. The fish was nothing to write home about, and nearly three times the price of that served in the Mahaneh Yehuda market. Admittedly, the fish in the Waldorf was served with a small salad, but it was less fish than is served in the market, and the fish at the hotel was nowhere near as tasty.

Everyone knows that hotel beverages are expensive, but when we looked at the cocktail menu on the Terrace, we were shocked by the high prices, but the drinks we ordered – one with alcohol and one without – were indeed very refreshing, though the minuscule amount of alcohol did not justify the price.

The food menu comprises tapas-style items, meaning that the servings are small. Because we were there as guests of the tapas bar, we could have several servings to taste different items. But anyone who had to pay between NIS 45 and NIS 65 for a serving would be heavily out of pocket by the end of the evening, if they happened to be there to stave off hunger.

 TEMPURA CAULIFLOWER with tahini cream and tomato salsa. (credit: STEVE LINDE) TEMPURA CAULIFLOWER with tahini cream and tomato salsa. (credit: STEVE LINDE)

We loved the Tempura Cauliflower with cream of tehina, but neither of us was partial to the Fish Shwarma, which, after gingerly tasting, we left on the plate.

We also ordered Roasted Eggplant, which had too many other ingredients to add to the flavor (tehina cream, lamb and pine nuts), but which actually did the opposite.

The Bao Bun Spare Ribs came with large roasted potatoes, with a few strips of meat inside a mini pita. The meat was quite tasty. There simply wasn’t enough of it.

We did better with the Entrecote Steak in Pita and the Entrecote Burger as our main courses, but the meat  lacked spice, and again there was an overabundance of potatoes.

As for desserts, there were only two choices: Basbousa Cake, a traditional semolina cake with silan, halva and roasted pistachios; and Chocolate Tart. Without asking which we preferred, the waiter brought both to the table, and actually knew our personal preferences as he set them down. The cake was passable, but not more than that, and the tart, though quite edible, was not the kind of chocolate concoction that one drools over.

The presentation on the plates was attractive, and the service was absolutely superb. Our waiter smiled, took criticism without flinching, cleared and cleaned the table, and was unfailingly polite.

We actually meant it when we told him that he was the best part of the meal.

The ambience on the Terrace is pleasant, the furniture comfortable, and the cool night air a welcome relief from the heat of the day, but with all that, it should be remembered that one doesn’t come to a hotel like the Waldorf Astoria to eat potatoes, which are the poor person’s stomach liner.

The writers were the guests of the hotel.