We are now in the period known as “the Nine Days,” which leads up to the Tisha Be’av fast. During this time, many observant Jews do not eat meat or drink wine as a sign of mourning, except for Shabbat. It may be psychological, but I find myself really missing meat and wine during this time.
It may be psychological, but I find myself really missing meat and wine during this time.
I’ve written before about Tzidkiyahu, which I continue to believe is one of the best value-for-money restaurants in Jerusalem. The fact that it’s in my neighborhood, and I can just walk there, and the fact that I used to take one of my sons there for a treat whenever he got home from the army, makes going there nostalgic for me.
A caveat – be sure to make reservations. It fills up every night for dinner and may also be crowded at lunch. It’s easier to reserve and cancel, than to arrive and be told you have to wait 45 minutes for a table.
I also have frequently recommended the place as much for the service as for the food. The servers, many of whom have been there for years, seem to really care whether the diner has a good experience. They check on you frequently and refill the salads even before they are empty.
What's on the special "nine days menu" at Tzidkiyahu
When I was invited to try their special “nine days menu,” I was happy to accept. I started my meal with an excellent cocktail of passiflora and arak that was as good as any cocktail I’ve had recently. Not too strong and very delicious.
Then came the huge colorful array of salads and the fresh laffa bread baked in the tabun. This is one area in which Tzidkiyahu really shines. The colorful salads are always fresh and refilled. I especially enjoyed the smoked eggplant salad and the beets. Along with the fresh laffa bread, the salads alone can be a meal, and non-meat and non-fish eaters can do that for NIS 65. It’s one of the best deals in town.
BUT WE were there for the fish. There are usually two fish dishes on the menu: a salmon skewer of fresh salmon in a hot Asian sauce (NIS 130) and a whole grilled sea bream (NIS 130). But for the nine days, they’ve added a few more fish dishes, and we tried two of them.
The first was a deconstructed crispy sea bass, and it was both visually arresting and delicious. The meat had been taken off the bones, cut into chunks, lightly fried, and then put back on the fish with a small salad of leafy greens, tomatoes, and spicy peppers (NIS 168). It was not greasy at all and was quite different from other fish dishes I’ve had recently.
The second was a whole grilled sea bass with a little olive oil and lemon (NIS 168). It was fresh and delicious.
Manager Eden Abadi, who has been at Tzidkiyahu for eight years, said that they only serve fresh fish, and if customers like the fish dishes during the nine days, they will keep some of the dishes on the menu.
A woman in her 20’s at the table next to mine was treating her grandparents to an early dinner. She told me her grandmother, an immigrant from Iraq, who is an excellent cook, had never eaten in a restaurant before that day.
“How was it, savta?” I called to her.
“Delicious!” she said with a smile.
For dessert, my husband and I shared a gooey chocolate souffle.
As I was leaving, I overheard a server wearing a black kippah speaking to a little Palestinian boy in English.
“You like ice cream?”
The little boy looked at his father who translated and nodded enthusiastically.
“I bring you ice cream, but only if you eat all your food! OK?”
Then he said in Hebrew to the father, “The ice cream is my treat.”
Just a bit of peace in the Middle East at Tzidkiyahu.
Tzidkiyahu21 Yad Harutzim St.Open: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday night after ShabbatPhone: (02) 673-3308 (reservations highly recommended)Kashrut: Jerusalem Rabbinate, although much of the meat is Halak Beit Yosef
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.