Dining: New kid on the block

The Movida tapas bar is a welcome addition to downtown Jerusalem.

The Movida tapas bar (photo credit: PR)
The Movida tapas bar
(photo credit: PR)
 Everyone wants to have a vacation from time to time.
When you can’t take one, you compromise to just get that vacation feeling. Going out to a restaurant that recreates another country’s atmosphere will bring you somewhere close to that feeling.
Movida (named after La Movida Madrilena, a counter-cultural movement that emerged in Madrid in the late 1970s and early ‘80s after the end of Franco’s dictatorship and death) is one of those places. Originally the location of the popular student bar Burla, this tapas bar is a warm new addition to Jerusalem’s bustling King George Street.
My first impression was of a place that knows its nature. Sleek, uncomplicated and up to date, a huge, impressively stocked bar covers a large section of the restaurant, while high ceilings, wooden seats and tables create a sophisticated, low-key mood.
The service was first class, as we were immediately greeted by the co-owner, Maya Katani, who talked us through the wine list and menu.
The menu is divided into three types of tapas: vegetarian, fish (no seafood) and meat. The portions were fair sized; and because the plates actually match the amount of food they hold, that “huge plate, little food” phenomenon was absent.
Our starters began with Gran Via endive salad (NIS 41). Endive is a notoriously difficult vegetable for those unfamiliar with using it.
Though fragile in appearance, it has a rather bitter taste. Here, the endive was finely sliced and served in a mound with pears, artichokes and a sauce that mellowed the bitterness without overpowering submerging it.
This was followed by fried potato dumplings stuffed with minced meat (NIS 39). If you’re concerned about carbs or cholesterol, skip these. But if you want a fantastic flavor combo, this is your dish. The dumplings had an almost mashed potato consistency, while the mince was juicy and tender. This was comfort food at its best.
In between we enjoyed two glasses of Crianza, a delicious red wine from Rioja – a region in Spain with a long, glorious viticulture history.
Next up was cured mackerel (NIS 39) with escabeche vegetables and smoked paprika aioli. I am usually not a mackerel fan, however this dish incorporated interesting ingredients and innovative taste combinations, and both worked really well.
Our next dish was the Spanish Fly chicken wings (NIS 41) with oregano, chili and Amarena cherries. A beautiful pile of spicy, saucy, meaty goodness. They looked great, smelled great and were ready to be devoured. The chicken was very tender, bathed in a tasty sauce.
At this point, chef Kobi Katani took some time away from his busy kitchen to talk with us about his other culinary ventures. Having worked for many years in Melbourne as head chef of renowned restaurants such as Chez Olivier and The Baths Middle Brighton, Katani decided to move back to Israel with his family and open his own restaurant in Jerusalem with his wife, Maya.
After a bit of a breather, we were presented with the 500-gram slow-cooked asado rib (NIS 129), which proved to be a big winner.
It was the tastiest and most tender that I’ve eaten in recent memory.
Compliments to the chef! For dessert, we chose churros (NIS 33), which is a traditional Spanish dessert. The churros were crisp and fried to perfection and lightly coated in sugar. The accompanying chocolate dipping sauce was really rich and complemented the churros very well.
In my opinion, Movida is a great new addition to the Jerusalem dining scene. As it has just opened, I can imagine that every aspect of this already fabulous restaurant will only get better and stronger.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
37 King George Street, Jerusalem
Tel: 052-357-0376