I had always assumed that Kfar Haroeh, a religious moshav in Central Israel meant “shepherd’s village.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. The “roeh” part of the Hebrew name refers to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Mandate Palestine, and the Hebrew name is an acronym of his initials.
Having visited the restaurant on several occasions before, we knew we would be enjoying a good lunch when we arrived there recently, on a sunny Sunday.
The restaurant was already quite busy, with many patrons choosing to sit out in the beautiful garden, others in the covered patio and several in the spacious indoor restaurant.
We opted for the latter and chose a cozy corner table. The staff is young and keen, and we didn’t have to wait long before our order – from the English menu – was taken.
What's on the menu?
My companion chose the soup of the day as an opener, while I picked the focaccia with dips.
Luckily for him, the soup of the day was pea soup which is his favorite. It came nicely hot and thick, providing a substantial opening to the meal. (NIS 36).
My hors d’oeuvre consisted of three dips: artichoke confit, pepper salsa and chipotle aioli with focaccia, a flat Italian loaf.
The artichoke flavor was so subtle that one could miss it entirely but the other two lived up to their names and I especially liked that they were slightly harif (peppery). The bread was fresh, hot, crispy and just right for tasting with the dips. (NIS 38).
For our main courses, my companion chose the oven-baked fish fillet (NIS 115) and I picked the mushroom shawarma. (NIS 62).
My only complaint is that they arrived while we were still enjoying our starters so the timing could have been better.
The fish was super fresh lavrak with stir-fried vegetables. The chef had got the fillets cooked to just the right degree and they were very good. I thought the vegetables, which included shredded carrots, peppers, zucchinis and mushrooms, could have benefitted from the addition of some soy sauce.
The shawarma consisted of sliced mushrooms on a baguette that seemed to be impregnated with tehina. Given that there is such a huge variety of edible mushrooms today, it seems a pity that they chose to use only one type. However, it was very tasty and flavoring it with cumin was an imaginative touch, producing a meaty taste.
The side dish was pickled vegetables, which added a certain piquancy.
We each had a side salad of the usual suspects – tomatoes, cucumbers, baby leaves, radish slices, carrots and yellow peppers – with a rather good vinaigrette dressing.
I drank a glass of ice-cold Gewürztraminer, which was refreshing (NIS 45) and my companion, confronted with the choice of at least five different beers, chose his namesake, Alexander.
There is no dessert menu, you just go and look at the selection in a glass-fronted display window. There is a mouthwatering selection that comes from the famous cake shop next door, Shoshana: millefeuilles, apple and lemon meringue tarts, chocolate mousse and tiramisu.
We opted for the cheesecake and savored every mouthful. Not too sweet, it had a biscuit base and thick cream topping. Two very good cappuccinos ended this memorable meal. The whole enterprise, which began about two decades ago, is family-run and one feels this in the warmth of welcome every guest receives.
Haroeh Bacafe,Shivtei Yisrael 1Kfar-Haroeh.04 625 1451.Open: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m.–11:30 p.m.Friday 8 a.m.–2 p.m.Saturday night: An hour after Shabbat.Kashrut: Local Rabbinate.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.