Muffin Boutique - Just don't eat the tops

Out of a total of 25 flavors, they make eight or nine every day, some dairy and some vegan.

Muffin Boutique, Jerusalem (photo credit: LAINIE RICHLER)
Muffin Boutique, Jerusalem
(photo credit: LAINIE RICHLER)
You’ve probably walked by it dozens of times, but if you didn’t go inside, you’re missing out. Muffin Boutique, owned and run by Shmarya and Lainie Richler, has been open since 2014.
Before we get to the muffins, let’s talk about the bagels, even at the risk of starting a turf war between the New Yorkers and Canadians among you. The Richlers are from Montreal and they offer Montreal-style bagels, which are hand-rolled before being boiled and baked, and are denser, chewier and a little sweeter than their New York counterparts.
I am a native New Yorker, and one of the things I most miss in Israel (along with pastrami, half-sour pickles and Dr. Brown’s celery soda) is “real” bagels. Shmarya, who worked for many years in hi-tech, would bring back a few dozen bagels from Montreal every time he traveled, until he finally decided to make his own.
I tried an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox (NIS 29), and while I had promised to share with my companion (my 16-year-old son), I reneged on my promise and finished the whole thing! I did share a toasted rosemary and salt bagel with butter (NIS 12), which was also delicious.
My vegan friend Estelle also joined us, and Muffin Boutique has a lot of vegan options. There is vegan cream cheese, vegan bagels, and quite a few of the muffins are vegan as well. The Richlers make everything in-house, so they know all of the ingredients and what vegans can eat.
Lainie is also a personal trainer and has moved more toward healthy eating and veganism.
“We don’t use any trans fat like margarine,” she said. “And while traditional Montreal bagels are boiled in a honey wash, we wanted them to be vegan, so we use silan [date honey] instead.”
Besides the bagels, I tried a broccoli quiche (NIS 39), which had a flaky crust and a creamy, delicious filling with a lot of broccoli. It came with a small side salad that included seeds and nuts. The dressings were especially interesting, with a curry dressing and a raspberry-poppy one that was especially good.
With the quiche I drank a vegan chocolate peanut butter shake (NIS 26). It was sweetened with whole dates and was made with natural peanut butter. Not too sweet, it was refreshing on a hot day.
I then chose a smoothie bowl from the four on offer. The acai smoothie bowl (NIS 39) is nondairy and made from acai, which is supposed to be a superfood. It tasted like an unsweetened frozen yogurt and was topped with homemade granola and coconut slices.
Last but not least are the muffins. Out of a total of 25 flavors, they make eight or nine every day, some dairy and some vegan. My favorite was the pumpkin cream cheese, which was incredibly moist, closely followed by the mocha-chip. Large muffins are NIS 12, and small ones are NIS 5. Trust me, you’re going to want to bring some home.
Corona has hit Muffin Boutique hard like all restaurants. A large section of its business is catering, and corporate catering is down significantly. In addition, britot and bar mitzvas have many fewer guests than usual. At Muffin Boutique, they’ve survived, but had to furlough some of the workers.
Since they opened six years ago, they’ve offered a free muffin and coffee, or a sandwich and coffee, to any soldier in uniform once a month (based on the honor system). During corona, they had to put that on hold, although Shmarya said they are now restarting it. They’ve donated over 3,000 meals over the years, and also donate all of the leftovers to lone soldier centers or the Pina Chama (cozy corner) in Gush Etzion at the end of every day.
“It’s really heartwarming to be able to do this,” Lainie said. “We had someone come to us to order catering for a brit, and he said he chose us because when he was a soldier we used to give him free muffins.”
Muffin Boutique
16 Ben-Yehuda Street
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Kashrut: Badatz Mehadrin Jerusalem
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.