Come for the chopped liver, stay for the meat

Tzipora, in the back of Cinema City, is a large welcoming restaurant decorated with a lot of wood that seats about 100.

Come for the chopped liver,  stay for the meat (photo credit: Courtesy)
Come for the chopped liver, stay for the meat
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When it comes to Cinema City in Jerusalem, my friends fall into two camps: some call it an “assault on the senses,” others say it’s a fun, colorful place to have a meal and catch a movie.
I did both on a recent Thursday night, eating dinner at Tzipora and then seeing Joker. I’m not a film critic, but all I can say is that dinner was far better than the movie, which I thought was much too violent.
Tzipora, in the back of Cinema City, is a large welcoming restaurant decorated with a lot of wood that seats about 100. Like most grill restaurants in Israel, a meal starts with a collection of small salads that are refilled as often as you wish.
There are two differences in the salads from most grill restaurants – one a welcome change and the second, less pleasing. The latter is that you have to pay for the salads even if you order a main course. They are not automatically included but cost NIS 25 with a main course and NIS 50 without a main course. You are not obligated to order the salads, and the servers make sure you understand that you will pay extra. The owners say that their high kashrut standards (Badatz and Mahpoud) make all raw materials more expensive.
The welcome difference is that they may be the best salads I’ve had in Israel, and even include a delicious chopped liver. I’m thinking about going back just for that chopped liver! Everything, and I mean everything, from the olives to the warm eggplant, to the sabich, to the egg salad to the fuul (fava beans) is made in-house. The salads come with freshly made laffa bread from the tabun oven.
I came with my fellow-foodie daughter, as well as my husband who has recently become mostly vegetarian for health reasons. I told co-owner Shlomi Malcka that my husband would only have salads, but they surprised him with a beautifully put-together vegetarian plate with excellent Yemenite falafel, as well as green tehina and roasted tomatoes. It looked as beautiful as it tasted.
Chef Tomer Itach, who is self-taught and has cooked in some top restaurants in Tel Aviv, said Tzipora’s concept is to take the idea of a grill restaurant and elevate it to a chef restaurant. For example, all meats are aged in-house, and the sirloin is cooked sous vide before being finished on the grill.
For our main course, Itach suggested that my daughter and I share the Mixed Meat Platter (NIS 290). It is basically a tasting menu for two people in a square grill pan. Tomer did not ask us how we wanted our meat done, which I didn’t realize until the meat came. I worried it would be overdone, but each type of meat was perfectly cooked, most of them medium rare.
Most unique was a skewer of sweetbreads, which is one of my favorite dishes. These were soft, nicely seasoned and just really good. There was also a skewer of liver, which in my experience, is almost always over-cooked in Israel. These livers were soft with just a hint of pink in the middle. There was a portion of sirloin, and one of entrecôte that was almost buttery, as well as marinated pargiyot and 2 small round kabobs. I was bursting by this point, but the food was so good, I wanted to keep eating.
The mix comes with two side dishes. In this case they brought us majadara, green beans, and mashed potatoes. All were good but I didn’t want to use up too much space in my stomach that I was saving for the meat.
A note about the service. It’s really good, and not just for those writing a review. As soon as we put an empty skewer back on the tray, it was whisked away. The servers are polite and efficient, and look like they are enjoying their job.
Now I’ll tell you a secret. Tzipora has a steal of a business lunch for just NIS 55-65. All meals include four salads, two skewers of meat (although there is a limited choice of what is included) or a main dish like shwarma, schnitzel or marinated chicken breast, a side dish and a drink. Unfortunately, the chopped liver is not one of the salads offered. For that you’ll have to return in the evening.
Sderot Yitzhak Rabin 10, Cinema City
Phone: 053-936-7188
Kashrut: Badatz Beit Yosef, Mahpoud
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. (until midnight on Thursday)
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.