All the meat that’s fit to eat

Unlike the kids in the marshmallow experiment, our meat started coming even before the salads arrived at the table.

Papagaio  (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Do you remember the marshmallow test from the 1970s? Children were offered one marshmallow now, but told they could have two if they were able to wait 15 minutes. It was supposed to be a test of self-control.
Think of the marshmallow when your server at Jerusalem’s Papagaio brings a basket of warm rolls and six salads, all made in-house, to your table before the meat starts coming. Nibble the salads if you must, but please, please don’t eat the bread. You’ll thank me later.
Most Papagaio customers order the Brazilian Table, an all-you-can-eat feast offering 10 kinds of meat for dinner (NIS 229 per person) and NIS 100 for children under 10, and nine kinds during lunch (NIS 166). The meat is served on long swords and carved at the customer’s table. The only catch is that the whole table has to order the all-you-can-eat.
I will be honest with you. When Papagaio opened 12 years ago, we went several times for special occasions. Although not cheap, it is the same as what an appetizer and main course would cost anywhere else, and it offered as much meat as my growing boys could eat. Then, about five years ago, we went and were disappointed with the quality of the meat, and never returned.
Maor Vilachek and two partners took over the restaurant two years ago, with the goal of improving the quality of the meat. Most of the meat comes frozen from South America, as the mehadrin kashrut supervisor will not approve meat from the Golan Heights, which would be fresh.
That said, all of the meat we ate was well prepared with unique sauces and spices. It was not tough, and overall the whole meal was tasty. Because it has a mehadrin kashrut certificate from the Orthodox Union, the clientele includes many haredim from both Israel and abroad. Vilachek says about 60% of the clientele are tourists, and 40% Israelis.
“The concept is a grill restaurant where the meat is cooked very slowly,” he said. “Most women eat about 500-600 grams of meat, and men eat 800-900 grams, although we have some yeshiva guys who can eat two kilos of meat.”
The servers ask how you like your meat cooked, and with the answer of “medium-rare” we were off.
Unlike the kids in the marshmallow experiment, our meat started coming even before the salads arrived at the table. First up was a thin slice of London broil, served from a tray. Next came a sword with a large chunk of entrecote. The server cut off two slices of medium-rare meat. Next was a small plate of liver and onions in a sweet sauce. I thought the liver was overdone, and left it after a taste.
Next up was the star of the night for me – spring chicken, which is cubes of dark meat chicken in a mustard and honey sauce. This was so juicy and delicious that I asked for more. For the rest of the list of meat, you’ll have to visit the restaurant. The meal is served with a side dish. I chose fries and they were thin and crispy, although I restrained myself to leave more room for the meat.
If you don’t want the all-you-can-eat, there are meat platters such as “Porto Alegre conjunto” (NIS 281), which is 900 grams of spring chicken, entrecote, kebab and liver. These platters come with two side dishes and would be plenty for two people.
There are also individual dishes, including a large hamburger for NIS 75, kebab on eggplant for NIS 74, and spring chicken steak in a honey and mustard marinade for NIS 86.
There is also a great deal on a business lunch served from noon to 5 p.m., which includes all of the homemade salads. Prices range from NIS 49 for a Frango Salad (grilled chicken breast on a bed of fresh greens with lemon aioli dressing) to NIS 109 for a 300-gram entrecote steak.
Service was friendly but haphazard. We were offered several meats twice, but had to ask for the turkey. There is an extensive beer and wine list as well.
The evenings fill up so reservations are a must, and the restaurant is sometimes closed in the afternoon for private parties, so call before coming.
3 Yad Harutzim Street, Talpiot
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 12 noon – 11 p.m. Closed Friday and Saturday
Phone: (02) 674-5745
Kashrut: OU mehadrin
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.