Edna Halup spent much of her working life in education, starting as a kindergarten teacher and ending with a spell in Africa, where she volunteered for three months and set up a children’s enrichment center in Kenya.Just over a year ago, she fulfilled a life-long dream and opened her own restaurant, Edna’s Café, on the grounds of the Protea Village retirement home.“I have always loved to cook, and I love people,” says Halup, who was born somewhere in the middle of a family of 11 children.”It seemed a winning combination for opening my own restaurant.”The large glass-walled eatery was filled with diners, including families with children, when we visited there recently to taste the food.We began our meal with a selection of vegetable starters.The grilled artichokes were warm and tender, full of flavor and accompanied by a rich labane sauce with the addition of goat’s cheese (NIS 36). Halup explained that they were special artichokes which she brings from Italy and are so soft and young that the whole vegetable is edible, even the choke. Another starter was little fried potato latkes, or pancakes, made from grated sweet potatoes rather than the more usual white potato.They were piping hot, crispy and came with a piquant tzatziki on the side (NIS 32).Some pan-seared fresh mushrooms in garlic and thyme with goat cheese made yet another very tasty hors d’oeuvre (NIS 39). The mushrooms were chewy and full of flavor.Last in the appetizer department, we had arancini – cheese-filled risotto balls fried in breadcrumbs on a rose sauce (NIS 42). The dish looked beautiful, but we felt that the filling got somewhat lost inside the large quantity of rice. Garlic confit, sweet and pungent, saved the day.Having very much enjoyed the starters, we got down to the serious business of the main course. My companion chose the fillet of fresh salmon on potato puree (NIS 69). It was a large piece of fish, very crispy underneath yet not overdone. The buttery puree was presented like a bird’s nest with grilled mushrooms nestling on top – a feast for the eyes and the palate.My choice was spinach quiche (NIS 45), a light-as-air piece of pastry topped with a heavenly mix of spinach, cream and cheese.The individual side salads were a mix of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and carrot julienne in a very good sweet vinaigrette.By this time we felt extremely over-nourished, but Halup insisted that we try her cheesecake to go with the postprandial coffee. This was a huge chunk of cake – a light sponge base topped with whipped cream cheese and more fresh cream on the top. She told us it was 5% cream cheese, and it certainly wasn’t overly sweet, so we were able to share a piece and enjoy it without too much guilt. The hot strong coffee, served in a brightly colored cup and saucer, was excellent, even the decaffeinated one.Protea Village and Edna’s Café are a long way from Africa, but for Edna Halup and her many faithful customers, it’s definitely the place to be.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Edna’s Café Kosher, dairy (but no official certification) Protea Village Bnei Dror Tel: (09) 775-6330 Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.