A friendly neighborhood gourmet

“I don’t work with just one supplier,” he explains. “Since meat is so variable, I work with many suppliers, some national, some local, to ensure we don’t have to work with sub-par cuts.”

Bruno (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
At first glance, Bruno seems like just another run-of-the-mill sandwich shop. Looks, however, can be deceiving, and a good chef can do amazing things with the simple concept of “sandwich.” The menu varies day by day, based on the best meats head chef and owner Yehoshua Yaakov can find.
“I don’t work with just one supplier,” he explains. “Since meat is so variable, I work with many suppliers, some national, some local, to ensure we don’t have to work with sub-par cuts.”
He tells us the special of the day is roast beef but our server Joanna tells us not to order as they’ll bring us a selection so we can taste everything.
The tiny restaurant in Baka seats about 25, but since the place is almost empty when we arrive at 9 p.m. we have no trouble finding a table. Out comes an enormous platter of meat, with almost everything you could put in one of their sandwiches. The platter includes roast beef, kebabs, pullet grilled with silan and coriander, merguez sausages and entrecote minute steak. All the meat is aged in-house, and though there is no smoker in the kitchen, they have an aging technique that lends a smoky note to some of the meats.
The roast beef was perfectly cooked, just chewy enough and flavored with its own delicious juices. I’m Ashkenazi, so I was a little worried about trying the merguez sausages, but Joanna assured us that the original recipes were flavorful, not spicy, and she was right. The sausages pack a little bit of a kick, but nothing that overwhelms the flavor of the meat, and the thin skins hold together very well while you’re eating.
The minute steak is my absolute favorite dish on the meat platter. It’s served in strips, cooked to a perfect medium-rare with chimichurri and roasted garlic, which is a family favorite in our house. A small segment of the population, which I unfortunately belong to, have a genetic anomaly that makes coriander taste like dish soap, so I skipped the pullet (pargit). My father said they were excellent, however, and the seasonings simple but delicious. The kebabs, I discovered, also had a small amount of coriander in them as well, and it speaks to Yehoshua’s skill that I wanted to keep eating them despite my anomalous sense of aftertaste.
While we were sitting the place started to fill up, and by 9:45 it was almost completely full, with the Binyamin family sitting next to us being the largest party. The Binyamins live nearby, and visit Bruno at least once a week because the food, as the mother puts it, is “the bomb.”
In fact, several of the patrons seem like regulars. They chat with the owner while their food is being prepared, and, like the red-headed hipster who casually drops his dogs’ leash at the door, seem totally at home in this friendly establishment.
While everything on the platter was delicious, Bruno specializes in sandwiches, so after the platter they brought out asado sandwiches and fries. As a fatty cut, I wouldn’t normally put asado in a sandwich but Yehoshua manages to keep the bread from getting soggy, even with much more unconventional sandwich fillings, such as duck confit and kubbeh hamusta.
The sandwich is filled with Bruno’s homemade salads, all made in house, with a special treat, their “potato-bomba” (a fried potato wedge with special seasonings) on top. Their fries are actually potato wedges, golden and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with a wonderful aioli rather than the standard ketchup.
Bruno’s prices are somewhere between the average sandwich place and a restaurant, with sandwich prices ranging between NIS 36-65. Plates of meat cost NIS 42-65 per person, side dishes are NIS 18-28 and salads are NIS 48-56.
Yehoshua plans to open an Italian-style gelateria next door within the next few weeks. His sister is in Italy right now studying ice cream-making, and he is importing all the ingredients from Italy. It will be kosher. One promised flavor is parmigiana cheese-flavored ice cream. Stay tuned.
Derech Beit Lehem 84, Jerusalem
Ph: 02-580-5888
Sun-Wed: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Thur: until midnight)
Fri: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.