A double delight

The Mamilla Café & Brasserie in Jerusalem is a haven within a haven.

The Mamilla Café & Brasserie in Jerusalem (photo credit: PR)
The Mamilla Café & Brasserie in Jerusalem
(photo credit: PR)
Going out to eat at a restaurant is always enjoyable, but there is something about going to a restaurant in a hotel that is even more alluring. The feeling of elegance and opulence before you even enter the eating establishment provides an added dimension of luxury to the dining-out experience.
Hence, when I ventured out in the rain last week to the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem to have lunch at the Mamilla Café & Brasserie, just entering the lobby of the tasteful, modern, minimalist lobby of the fivestar hotel already set the scene for the pleasure that was to come.
Located on the lobby level of the hotel, the Mamilla Café & Brasserie is a spacious restaurant with black wooden tables and chairs and large white and blue tiles on the walls. The wait staff was extremely friendly and attentive to me and my dining companion from the moment we arrived and continued to be so throughout our meal.
The Cafe’s menu covers all the usual categories one would expect to find at a kosher dairy restaurant – i.e., starters, salads, pasta, pizza, fish and dessert – but the ingredients and preparation are much more unusual and innovative. On weekdays, they also offer a business lunch until 6 p.m.
With price options of NIS 88, NIS 98 and NIS 128, each lunch includes a large choice of appetizer and main dish, accompanied by bread and spreads. And on Fridays from noon to 2:30 p.m., they offer a Kabbalat Shabbat menu that ranges from NIS 78 to NIS 88.
The café and brasserie has an extensive list of wine and beer to enhance the eating experience. To begin our meal, we each had a glass of Chardonnay from the Mony Winery, which we slowly sipped as we pored over the enticingly descriptive menu.
The starters, which range from NIS 38 to NIS 58, include such items as fish patties; leek patties; endive salad; risotto with asparagus, zucchini, green peas and mascarpone; polenta with root vegetables, Parmesan, mushrooms and a poached egg; and sambuska with labaneh, potato, a hard-boiled egg and tehina.
The salads, which include Greek, tuna, Israeli, Gravalax and health varieties, range from NIS 48 to NIS 60.
The pizzas range from NIS 50 to NIS 56, while the pasta dishes vary between NIS 64 and NIS 68. They include such combinations as gnocchi melanzane with eggplant, feta and basil; spaghetti with tomato, butter, chili and ricotta; and eggplant and ricotta ravioli with arugula, tomatoes and capers.
As for the fish, that category is comprised of seared sea bass, grilled sea bream and marinated salmon and costs from NIS 115 to NIS 135.
We wanted to start off light, so we decided to share a plate of the fish patties. When the dish arrived, I couldn’t identify the patties at first, as I thought they were mushrooms. The fish patties, which were more like fish meatballs, so to speak, were accompanied by roasted vegetables, a dollop of yogurt and a very spicy arisa, which I had asked to have served on the side.
We love pasta, so we ordered two dishes – the Mediterranean lasagna and the pappardelle with forest mushrooms, cream sauce and Parmesan. The lasagna was great. The thick, rich square had a welcome layer of mushrooms rather than the usual eggplant, and the cheese was melted to just the right consistency. The long, wide pappardelle came in a flavorful cream sauce with large chunks of mushrooms. Although the dish was very tasty, I would have preferred the mushrooms to be thinly sliced.
For our “main” main dish, we both ordered the salmon, which came with a small green salad with a sweet dressing. The generous piece of citrusmarinated fish was well seasoned and grilled to perfection. It was accompanied by steamed zucchini, broccoli, green beans and Swiss chard and a swish of mashed potatoes, which was more of a garnish than a side dish. Fortunately we had quite filled up on the pasta, for if I had ordered only the salmon as a main dish, I would have been extremely disappointed at the minuscule amount of mashed potatoes.
However, that did leave room for dessert. The selections, which range from NIS 38 to NIS 54, include chocolate mousse with espresso macaroons; chocolate soufflé; strawberry kadaif with mascarpone; and a fruit platter. We opted for the New York cheesecake and the hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
Both were excellent choices. The apple pie was a flavorful round tart with a nice crumble topping, while the cheesecake was made comme il faut – a thick, delicious slice that was dense and rich (rather than light and airy).
By the time we finished our meal the rain had stopped, so before we left the restaurant we went out to take a look at the large wooden terrace at the back that spans over the posh Mamilla Mall. In more clement weather, that would be the ideal setting for our next visit to the Mamilla Café & Brasserie.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Mamilla Café & Brasserie
Mamilla Hotel
14 Alrov Mamilla Avenue, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 548-2230
Sunday to Thursday, noon to midnight. Friday, noon to 3 p.m.
Saturday, one hour after Shabbat