Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse: Worth the drive from Jerusalem - review

The trick with the salads and the freshly baked bread that came with it is to restrain yourself, or you’ll be too full for the meat – and believe me, that is a mistake you don’t want to make!

 Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse (photo credit: Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse)
Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse
(photo credit: Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse)

I had been hearing about Yoel’s Meat Smokehouse for a while, but Kfar Adumim felt like it was too far away for a special trip. Yet I recently invited my good friend Laura Cornfield, an expert in all things smoked, to join me for dinner at Yoel’s and the drive was really not bad at all (especially since Laura did the driving) – just a half hour from southern Jerusalem.

We happened to go on Tu Be’av and the restaurant was decorated with red and white balloons, and little heart-shaped candies on each table. There were three sittings – 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30. We chose the “early bird,” reminding me of a very funny Seinfeld episode about eating dinner at 4 p.m. On regular days there are no “sittings,” although I suggest making a reservation.

The restaurant has a fun, homey feeling. There is seating outside on the patio as well as inside, with air-conditioning, which is what we chose. There were several large groups celebrating various events in various languages – Russian, English and Hebrew.

Our very professional waitress Tair (full disclosure: Tair is the daughter of my close friend Adina Issachar and I promised I’d mention both their names in this review, but she really is a good waitress) first offered us cocktails. Laura and I are both members of a WhatsApp group called “Ladies Who Drink,” so we eagerly accepted.

Heart 521 (credit: nellart)Heart 521 (credit: nellart)

The food at the meat smokehouse in Jerusalem

There are five cocktails on offer, and we both chose the Neve Midbar (NIS 44), which had tequila, orange juice, lemonade and an upside-down bottle of Corona beer. As you drank, more beer flowed into the glass. It was available in lychee, pineapple and Passiflora flavors, and was not overly alcoholic.

Tair then brought us a tray covered with homemade salads and a fresh loaf of bread. I think the salads are one of the best ways to tell the difference between an average and an excellent restaurant, and here the salads were all clearly homemade.

There was a cabbage salad with root vegetables, quinoa with sweet potatoes and lentils, a green tehina with mint and peppers, a spicy tomato salad with garlic and hot peppers, a cherry tomato salad, taboule with herbs, homemade pickles and an especially good Za’aluk, which is matbucha and eggplant.

The trick with the salads and the freshly baked bread that came with it is to restrain yourself, or you’ll be too full for the meat – and believe me, that is a mistake you don’t want to make!

“I’ve been cooking for 38 years and I love it. I was born in a pot, not a womb.”

Yoel Ben Shabbat

“I’ve been cooking for 38 years and I love it,” chef-owner Yoel Ben Shabbat told me. “I was born in a pot, not a womb.”

WE THEN shared the “meat platter for two”, which was a very large platter of meat. (NIS 360 for a kilo of meat.) Note: while the kashrut is Rabbanut, all of the meat is Chalak Beit Yosef, and the vegetables are all Gush Katif. 

There was asado, which had been smoked overnight; high-quality entrecote steak; thinly cut sirloin, and pargiot (dark chicken) which had been marinated. There were also two delicious lamb chops that are not part of the usual meat platter, but Yoel wanted me to taste them. (I suffer for my art.) 

All of the meats spend at least a little time in the smoker, but I did not find any of them too smoky. In this case, the smoking (which was done with wood that is soaked in wine) just added another layer of flavor.

I am not a huge fan of asado, which I usually find too fatty. This was served on the bone and was very tasty, once I cut out the fat. The sirloin was very good but was cooked more than the medium-rare I had asked for. The entrecote was prepared perfectly medium-rare and was really good.

“This is delicious,” Laura said after her first bite.

“You can really taste the quality of the meat,” my foodie son said as he devoured the leftovers before I could put them in the refrigerator.

Surprisingly it was the pargiyot that I couldn’t stop eating (even though I was really full at that point). They were soft and juicy and melted in my mouth. They may be the best pargiyot I’ve ever eaten.

The platter came with sides of French fries and rice that we didn’t even touch.

For dessert, we shared a Tu Be’av-themed concoction that had red macarons, which was fun.

Yoel’s Meat SmokehouseKfar AdumimHours: Sunday-Thursday 12 p.m.-11 p.m.Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for Shabbat takeaway foodKashrut: Rabbanut Mateh Binyamin

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.