Who would refuse an invitation to supper in the King’s Court lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, even if it’s a long way from home?
It’s not just the food at the Waldorf; it’s the subdued elegance, the sense of history. Just looking around at the interior, designed by famed Turkish designer Sinan Kafadar, induces a feeling of being in a calm oasis away from the turbulent reality of where we live.
The origins of the building go back to 1929 when the first luxury hotel in Jerusalem, the Palace, was built by the notorious mufti in partnership with a Jewish investor. The original building, which was later used for government offices, fell into disrepair, until it was bought and restored about seven years ago at huge cost.
As a tribute to the original building, the flagship meat restaurant is called The Palace, while for lighter dairy meals the King’s Court lobby is the place.
For a starter I chose stuffed mushrooms in a cream sauce. The perfect round fungi were filled with a cheese mixture made from feta and Parmesan, and were surrounded by a rich creamy sauce. They were delicious, and I, for one, am glad that the Waldorf chef took issue with Shirley Conran, who once famously said: “Life is too short to stuff a mushroom” (NIS 52).
My companion chose the pea soup and found it just the thing for a cold Jerusalem night – nicely thick and garnished with diced carrots. It might well have been made with frozen peas – who has time to shell fresh peas, even at the Waldorf? (NIS 58).
For mains we eschewed all pizza and pasta offerings and chose fish, one salmon dish and one sea bass.
I had the fillets of sea bass served on potato puree with salad. It’s a very solid, “meaty” fish, and the plate arrived piled high with three fillets, a very generous amount. They were very fresh, baked to just the right degree, while the puree was soft and buttery. A well-dressed salad made up the course (NIS 152).
The other fish dish was Asian salmon, a nicely sticky version of the king of fish with a sweet sauce heavy on fresh ginger and stir-fried vegetables on the side (NIS 178).
For dessert we had one fruit salad, a bowl of very nicely segmented fruit flavored with mint but which was crying out for a dollop of Cointreau (NIS 48). We could also not resist the dessert dubbed “Mars,” which also proved to be excellent – a concoction of fruit and milk chocolate, bearing only a passing resemblance to its namesake but delicious nonetheless (NIS 58).
Two exceptional coffees ended our meal, before we had to leave the warm comfort of the Waldorf lobby for the long drive home.
Gershon Agron Street 26-28
Tel: (02) 542-3333
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.