Hot grill and warm atmosphere at Nachman

The Nachman went through several incarnations to arrive at its present existence as a smokehouse grill.

Nachman Smokehouse BBQ Grill (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nachman Smokehouse BBQ Grill
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We’ve passed the Nachman Smokehouse BBQ Grill many times on our frequent visits to Zichron Ya’acov, where we stay at the great little Pension Cohen. It always looked so inviting with great cooking smells emanating from the smokehouse at the center of all culinary activity there.
We decided to visit on what was probably the worst winter evening of 2019 so far – blustery winds, driving rain and freezing cold.
Never mind, the welcome at Nachman is as warm as anyone could hope for. Ronen, the proprietor and chef, made us feel important, lavishing avuncular attention on us all evening.
The first (of many) dishes to appear, together with the herbed hot focaccia was baba ganoush, a classic Middle Eastern dish consisting mainly of grilled eggplant, chopped with spices. This version had the added benefit of being cooked on the smokehouse rather than under a gas grill, as most are. The woods that Nachman uses are apple, lemon and plum, all of which grow in the garden adjacent to the restaurant. They imparted an incredible smoky flavor to the aubergine salad (NIS 29).
Another starter was a plate of dainty empanadas filled with smoked asado (beef). These had two interesting sauces on the side: chili with pickled lemon, and BBQ sauce, both home-made (NIS 24 for three). We also tasted the home-made humus, not smooth, but chunky with chick peas as well as bits of meat (NIS 49).
Next to appear were spicy hot merguez – a type of sausage that came with an unusual dip of tehina mixed with amba, a kind of orange colored pickle (NIS 35). Finally, in the savory department, Ronen brought over a mixed grill of chicken breast, pastrami and kebabs.
A tasting platter of all these meats plus side dishes costs NIS 170. A salad on the side gave us the illusion we were eating healthily.
Almost unable to move by this time, the host insisted we must try the desserts. These were mostly chocolate based – a plate of chewy rich brownies, an imitation, pareve Crembo, the snack so beloved by Israeli children – and “sushi” sweet roll of chocolate, vanilla and coconut.
There were also some strips of candied pomelo skins, a true Israeli invention. All the desserts were welcome after the amount of savory food we had just consumed (NIS 26/32).
The wine we drank throughout the meal was a robust blend of Cabernet and Petite Sirah from Teperberg Winery (NIS 18 a glass).
The Nachman went through several incarnations to arrive at its present existence as a smokehouse grill. In the past it has been dairy, meat but non-kosher, and now, for the last few years, meat and kosher. It is situated next to the house where Ronen was born, and where his great-grandparents settled after the 1882 wave of aliyah from Romania and Galicia.
Looking out at the garden, you can see the almond tree his forebears planted in 1921 beginning to bloom. Inside, the restaurant is filled with antiques, many for sale, which give a lot of character to the place. Nachman is worth a visit – not just for the food, but for the feeling of an earlier, perhaps more innocent time.
Nachman Smokehouse BBQ Grill
Hameyasdim 37, Zichron Ya’acov
Tel: 054-554-4760 or 04-639-0133
Sun-Thur: 12 noon-3:30 p.m.
Tue-Thur: 6 p.m.-late.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant