Jerusalem's own masterpiece

Mona is an upscale restaurant that has perfected the art of preparing fine food.

Mona 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mona 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The first thing my companion and I noticed when we entered Mona at 7 p.m. on a Monday night was how full it was. Located in the beautiful Jerusalem Artists’ House at what was the original Bezalel Art School downtown, Mona is exceptionally popular, especially among Englishspeakers, even though it is not kosher and you need to make a reservation.
Known for both its meat and seafood, the restaurant has a fireplace and small tables that create a cozy atmosphere, attracting a regular clientele of secular and artsy Jerusalemites, journalists and tourists. A Frommer’s review of the restaurant compares it to the legendary Fink’s Bar, which closed in 2005.
The restaurant is owned by two charming young men, Ezer (who acts as maitre d’) and Guy (who works as a chef), who both clearly have a large personal following.
We asked our charming waitress (who spoke perfect English, as she had lived in San Diego) to surprise us with her favorite dishes. She started by bringing us a fresh salmon tartar served with artichoke and sour cream (NIS 69), which was absolutely delicious; a veal fillet carpaccio served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and rocket leaves (NIS 45), which was outstanding but not as good as the salmon; and a coquilles Saint-Jacques lightly grilled with smoked salmon and caramelized nuts (NIS 69), which was fantastic! She also served us the house wine, which was wonderful. We thought it just couldn’t get any better, but it did! For the main course, we had drum fish and shrimp in a fish stock and lemon butter sauce (NIS 119), which was fresh and superb, and a rare veal fillet (150 grams) with herbs and olive oil source (NIS 98), which was out of this world! To top it off, we shared a piece of chocolate cake (NIS 40), which was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
We both left feeling high from such an uplifting culinary experience and both agreed that Mona can compete with any top restaurant in Tel Aviv or, for that matter, in any big city around the world. Paris may have the Mona Lisa, but Jerusalem has its Mona, too.
It may be a little expensive but it’s definitely worth it, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion or just treating yourself to some of the good things in life.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Mona is open from Sunday to Thursday (5 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and on Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 a.m. Reservations can be made at (02) 622-2283. Not kosher.