Subterranean charm

Blue Hall Music is an ambitious restaurant, as well as a bar and entertainment venue.

Blue Hall Music restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Blue Hall Music restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
As part of the repurposing of Kikar Hamusika in Jerusalem’s Nahalat Shiva, the former Blue Hole bar underwent renovation in order to expand its scope of operations, while modifying its name ever so slightly. The reborn entity consists of several rooms one flight below street level, some resembling bright caves with white and Jerusalem stone walls, illuminated artistically by recessed violet-blue lights. While there are numerous plasma screens televising sports, they can be muted, leaving a few romantic nooks where pleasant classic rock plays in the background, until live music performances begin nightly at 9.
One room of the restaurant is dominated by an impressive, modernistic bar – one of the best stocked I have seen in the city.
Although this is the establishment’s smoking area, the air is kept remarkably fresh, thanks to a very sophisticated (and silent) ventilation system.
The bar can provide virtually any classic cocktail one can think of, but there are a few specialty cocktails (NIS 42) that were created by the resident mixologist. According to our waitress, the bartender is proudest of his Red Bar Singer: Aperol, vodka, fig liqueur, cranberry and lemon. Another cocktail in this category is the Spiced Girls: Captain Morgan spiced rum, Drambuie, mango and lime. Both are characterized by layers of flavor competing for attention. Cinnamon is dominant in the latter, while a tangy sensation prevails in the former.
Another characteristic they have in common is that both drinks pack a punch.
We started our meal with an appetizer that one encounters all too infrequently in Jerusalem: ceviche made from fresh fish from the sea (NIS 49). The fresh catch that evening was meagre fish (musar yam), which lends itself particularly well to the Latin American delicacy. And indeed, the ceviche at Blue Hall was the equal to any I have tasted in Tel Aviv. The version here was served with a green eggplant cream. While it did little to enhance the flavor of the ceviche, it was quite good in its own right spread on the accompanying toast, thus complementing the dish as a whole.
From the salad category, we were served the house Caesar (NIS 45), or at least the Blue Hall interpretation of the well-known dish. Of course, no kosher meat restaurant can serve a classic Caesar, since Parmesan cheese is a core ingredient. But this one also left out the anchovies – even though they are listed on the menu – and replaced the Caesar dressing with one that was heavy on Dijon mustard, accented with capers. The salad contained lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion and croutons and would still appeal to those who like creamy dressings with a bit of a kick.
Our main course was Blue Hall’s signature double meat platter (NIS 259), a veritable feast for carnivores. A variety of meats – veal sausages, lamb kebabs, chicken steaks and entrecôte – came loaded on a wooden plank, which also managed to accommodate nicely seasoned wedges of roasted potato (possibly alternated with a baked potato), as well as grilled peppers and onions.
I don’t think I have ever come across veal sausages in Israel, so these were a rare treat. They had a gamey complexity that gave a jolt to the taste buds. The kebabs were also an exercise in originality, as the round patties of ground lamb were stuffed with eggplant. However, the eggplant was neither visible nor noticeable to the taste, while the kebab itself was undercooked.
The chicken – actually pargit, or pullet – was not as described on the menu, which referenced Andalusian marinade. On the other hand, there were two condiments, probably intended for the entrecôte, that came to the rescue: a red wine sauce and the excellent house chimichurri.
Fortunately, neither was needed for the entrecôte, which was juicy and flavorful.
The desserts (NIS 45) change every night. If you find it difficult to decide after hearing the choices described by the waiter, you can order tastes of four desserts. But if you are a fan of chocolate and you hear the word “truffles,” by all means go for this rich delight that will leave a lingering sweetness on the palate.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant. Blue Hall Music Kosher (Mehuderet) 12 Yoel Salomon St., Jerusalem Tel: (02) 625-6488