Striking the right chord in the capital

Kinor Bakikar is a harmonious blend of fine food and warm atmosphere

Dish at the restaurant Kinor Bakikar (photo credit: ETTI NAMIR)
Dish at the restaurant Kinor Bakikar
(photo credit: ETTI NAMIR)
Just walking into Kikar Hamusika (Music Square) off Nahalat Shiva in downtown Jerusalem, you feel like you’ve left Israel for the plaza of a city in Europe. Walking into Kinor Bakikar, a kosher meat chef’s restaurant in the square, intensifies that feeling even further.
The night we were there, many of the patrons were speaking French, and the menu reflects both French and Mediterranean influences. A long glistening bar lined the wall near the entrance, and the tables set with white tablecloths each had lit candles on them.
The restaurant recently began serving a new winter menu, with seven new appetizers and a few new main dishes. We were greeted by floor manager Dario Notrica, originally from Argentina, whose gracious hospitality enriched our dining experience.
We started our meal with cocktails from the bar. My companion’s beverage included tequila, freshly squeezed orange juice, ginger ale, berries and lime, while mine had Bacardi rum, pineapple juice, mango syrup, lime, topped with almond slivers and fresh mint. It was a great way to start.
Every table receives complimentary freshly baked focaccia made in the taboun oven, with three dips that change according to the season. Our dips were eggplant mixed with aioli (which I couldn’t stop eating), spiced olives and tehina.
The menu lists a dozen appetizers and a similar number of main dishes. For appetizers we chose the beef fillet tartar (NIS 56) and veal sweetbreads (NIS 69). I has always wanted to try beef tartar, and I was not disappointed. The raw beef fillet was finely minced and mixed with capers, pickles and a brandy vinaigrette. It was served in crisp tapioca crackers. It was accompanied by a raw quail egg to mix into the meat. Overall, it was a unique and satisfying appetizer.
I also enjoyed the sweetbreads served on a bed of Swiss chard with smoked almonds and lemon. While a tad salty, the delicate chewiness of the sweetbreads was a treat.
“We have the best steaks that money can buy, but don’t order a steak,” Notrica advised us. “It may sound funny coming from an Argentinean, but I’d rather you order something that shows what the kitchen can do.”
I agreed, although I had been considering the cote de boeuf for two (NIS 285), a 600-gram piece of meat with roasted potatoes, marrow bone and chimichurri. Instead, we chose the deconstructed lamb shank (NIS 142), which was slow roasted with mushroom ragout, one of the new main dishes on the menu; and the magret de canard (NIS 125), a sousvide duck breast with pears, anise and chestnuts served on a bed of red lentils.
The lamb shank was a very large portion, served boneless, and the mushroom ragout was delicious. The duck breast was soft and juicy. I usually like duck breast pink in the middle, but this was so succulent that I didn’t mind. The pears were also delicious.
To go with our main course, the wine Notrica suggested was a Luria Rosso, a blend of Sangiovese and Barbera, which complemented the food beautifully.
Then it was time for dessert. My companion was interested in the chocolate soufflé (NIS 48), but Notrica suggested the deconstructed lemon tart (NIS 49). It was a tangy lemon cream served in a jar, with pieces of crust protruding from the top. I chose the chestnut tart (NIS 52), which was delicious.
To add to the restaurant’s ambience, Kinor Bakikar features live music every night. When we were there, Linoy Akala and Gil Shapira, who call themselves Bebe, sang a pleasant mix of folk and soft rock. The music was not loud and added to the laid-back atmosphere.
Chef Kobi Katani spent 10 years cooking in fine dining restaurants in Australia. He said he wanted to bring the professionalism and high quality to Kinor Bakikar. It seems he has succeeded.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Kinor Bakikar
Kosher, Rabbanut Yerushalayim Mehuderet
Kikar Hamusika
Nahalat Shiva, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 994-4902