OrienTop: A can't-miss Jerusalem dining experience - review

Whether for a romantic dinner, a night out with friends or a place to impress guests from out of town, the OrienTop will fit the bill.

 OrienTop (photo credit: Orient Top)
OrienTop
(photo credit: Orient Top)

Even if the fare had consisted solely of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Sprite, a meal at OrienTop, the rooftop restaurant of Jerusalem’s Orient Hotel, is a don’t-miss experience simply for the magnificent view of the Old City and the north of the capital.

The food, however, is a tremendous bonus. Nothing against PB&J, but the culinary team at OrienTop led by chef Ahmed Salameh has created a superb summer menu that gives new meaning to the term fine dining.

A Jerusalem native, Salameh began cooking at age 14 and studied his art in Italy, Ireland, Germany and New York before returning to Israel. Now 34, his vision of the OrienTop is as a destination where diners build a tasting menu and share dishes.

“I don’t like the idea of first courses and main courses, I like smaller portions, like tapas, that people can share. Especially in the summer months, when you don’t want to eat so heavy,” he said.

“I don’t like the idea of first courses and main courses, I like smaller portions, like tapas, that people can share. Especially in the summer months, when you don’t want to eat so heavy.”

Ahmed Salameh

I wish I could say I followed his desires, but it was inevitable that I’d eat too much.

Jerusalem Orient Hotel (credit: ASSAF PINCHUK)Jerusalem Orient Hotel (credit: ASSAF PINCHUK)

The food

The talented cocktails bartenders who minded the bar at the middle of the spacious and elegant room, prepared delicious concoctions, including our choices – the Between the Walls (NIS 52), a mix of dark rum, scotch, lemon, orange liqueur and ginger beer, and Spices and Tonic (NIS 52), consisting of gin, cinnamon, rosemary, orange, lemon, anise and tonic. Both were unique and packed a punch.

Our gracious server, who was also the restaurant’s manager, 21-year-old Nadim from Beit Safafa, suggested we try The Crispiest of All, a piquant serving of crisp, homemade thin crackers made with gluten-free potato flour and topped with flax seed, sesame seed and pistachio, accompanied by amazing spreads of beetroot, aioli and garlic, harissa and carrot cream (NIS 48). It was impossible to refrain from eating all of it.

We also ordered the Burnt Salmon with Wakame Salad, the fish glazed in ginger and caramel sauce (NIS 55). It was a keeper.

Where we went overboard was ordering the Burgers (NIS 132) – three good-sized open-faced sandwiches, one an entrecôte burger, the second Asado and the third, tartare. The first two were just delicious, while the latter is definitely an acquired taste.

I couldn’t resist the Entrecôte Steak with sherry confit, mushrooms and scorched onions (NIS 159) and it was one of the better steaks I’ve had in Jerusalem.

Other items that await the next time include the Duck Ragout with Jerusalem artichoke (NIS 85) and the much-touted Lamb Chops with eggplant cream (NIS 208). My companion noted that the menu didn’t include any chicken or vegan dishes, and was rather limited. But the dishes we did have were top-notch.

Of course, we had to sample the dessert offerings, and among the Lemon Cremux (NIS 45) and the Coconut Panna Cotta (NIS 48), we chose the Chocolate Mousse (NIS 55), served in cocoa glaze with caramelized hazelnuts. That and a double espresso were the fitting toppers to a great meal.

Whether for a romantic dinner, a night out with friends or a place to impress guests from out of town, the OrienTop will fit the bill. The food was so hypnotic that I even stopped looking at the view.

OrienTopEmek Refaim 3, Jerusalem02-569-9090Kosher

 The writer was a guest of the restaurant.