Restaurant years are like dog years

erusalem’s Angelica restaurant reopens, offering a limited menu.

Angelica (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Remember restaurants? Those lovely places where nice people give you good food and you don’t even have to wash the dishes?
I had almost forgotten how fun it is to go to a restaurant, and when I was invited to try the newly reopened Angelica, I was happy to agree.
I’m sure the first thing many of you want to know is whether it is following the Health Ministry rules. The short answer is yes. There is hand sanitizer at the entrance to the restaurant, and your temperature is taken. The black tables are spaced far apart, and you can also eat outside if you prefer. The members of the waitstaff wear masks, and the menus are thrown away after you order. Patrons must wear masks upon entry into the restaurant, as well as anytime they leave their tables – for example, to use the restroom. While at the table, of course, diners do not wear masks.
Chef Marcus Gershkovitz, who is also the owner of the restaurant, has been at the helm since it opened in 2008. Twelve years is a long time for a restaurant to thrive in Jerusalem, he agreed.
“Restaurant years are like dog years,” he said with a smile. “Each year feels like seven years.”
He is also in the middle of a personal brush with the coronavirus. His oldest child studies at Gymnasia Rehavia, and his two younger ones at the David & Paula Ben-Gurion Rehavia Elementary School, all of which were closed after students there were discovered with corona. So his wife took two weeks off from her job to stay with their kids in home isolation, and Marcus moved into a friend’s empty apartment near the restaurant.
The restaurant reopened this week with a limited menu of past flagship dishes. Gershkovitz said that usually about half of his customers are tourists, who are unable to come right now.
He has added a section to the menu called Chef Sandwiches, including a hamburger with smoked goose breast (NIS 72), asado with aioli (NIS 64), and chicken breast with acorn squash and crispy onion (NIS 58), to try to attract a younger crowd.
On the night we arrived, a party of about 15 people were eating in the private room, and two couples were the only other diners.
The restaurant has also started a tasting menu with five dishes (NIS 220) or seven dishes (NIS 280).
We asked for the first tasting menu and put ourselves in the chef’s hands. Each plate was beautifully composed. It was almost like eating a painting. In the tasting menu, the chef chooses your meal after consulting you about your likes and dislikes.
The first dish to arrive was a sea fish ceviche (NIS 58) made of drumfish with apricot sauce with fennel, small red-hot peppers and coriander. I am a raw fish afficionado, and this was a great way to start the meal.
Next was another appetizer of beef fillet tartare (NIS 56) made with filet mignon, a quail egg, capers, shimeji mushrooms and horseradish aioli. It was served on a long piece of toasted bread and was delicious – I was sad when it was gone.
Next was a small portion of goose breast (NIS 152) served in a red wine sauce with red currants. The goose breast was perfectly cooked, and paired beautifully with the fruit and the sauce.
The fourth dish was probably my favorite. A grilled beef fillet (NIS 178) in a red wine sauce with zucchini stuffed with chestnut cream. The meat melted in my mouth, and I confess to the minor crime of stealing my husband’s last bite when he wasn’t looking.
Dessert was a deconstructed lemon meringue pie with the meringue on the bottom. Outstanding.
With the meal we drank Angelica’s house wine (NIS 38 per glass), a beautiful blend of mostly cabernet sauvignon (80%) with a little merlot and syrah thrown in. It is from the Ramat Hevron winery, aged for 12 months in oak barrels, and bottled especially for the restaurant.
After months of being home, we all deserve a night out! Angelica is a great place to go for a special meal.
4 Washington Street
Tel: (02) 623-0056 (reservations encouraged)
Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Kashrut: Jerusalem Rabbinate (although many products, including the entrecôte steak, are mehadrin)
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.