The brunch bunch

The Halamed Hey Café is caring, cozy and comforting.

The Halamed Hey Café (photo credit: PR)
The Halamed Hey Café
(photo credit: PR)
Last Friday I had breakfast at a fairly new café in Katamon called Halamed Hey, located on the same street in Jerusalem that bears its name. Originally the Shosh Café that is now located in Rehavia/Nahlaot, this little café offers a comforting atmosphere and satisfying dishes for their customers to start their day off right.
Halamed Hey is not just a café but also a delicatessen that offers a variety of specialty items for purchase such as pastas, sauces, teas, jams wines and desserts. These items are neatly shelved on the walls of the restaurant.
There’s also a refrigerated case filled with boutique cheeses and dairy items. On Fridays, they offer about a dozen pre-made dairy or parve dishes and sides for people to buy for Shabbat.
The café has a bright and sunny decor with a homey and minimal design in the naturally lit dining area, which has about 12 tables in the front section and six in the back closer to the kitchen.
The place wasn’t too crowded, so it had a very cozy and intimate feeling for a Friday brunch. Definitely more relaxed and less hectic than most cafés in the city center. The music was a pleasant mix of American standards by crooners like Sinatra and Dean Martin.
The servers were prompt and friendly, and I certainly appreciated the carafes of ice cold water that were always present on the table.
The menu offers the standard Israeli breakfast fare, which is served until 1:00 in the afternoon. The Classic Morning breakfast comes with two eggs any style, fresh bread, salads, dips, yogurt with granola and, of course, a choice of hot and cold beverages (NIS 55 for one; NIS 89 to share).
When it’s not breakfast time, the café offers diners an assortment of dairy options such as pastas, salads and pizzas, ranging from NIS 40 to NIS 60. There’s also a selection of hot and cold beverages that include freshly squeezed juices, shakes and alcoholic drinks.
Rather than ordering straight from the menu, I requested that Rachel, the chef, show us some of her greatest hits. She was definitely up to the challenge.
The meal began with a smooth and strong shot of espresso and freshly squeezed orange and carrot juice, which was promptly followed by our first course of Teller’s bread with chef’s dips (NIS 26). It consisted of two warm fresh loaves of bread from the popular Teller Bakery and seven dips: fresh mozzarella balls with sliced cherry tomatoes; pesto and olive oil; tehina with smoky grilled eggplant, topped with a zesty salsa and fresh parsley; cubes of Bulgarian cheese and black olives; smoked salmon over mixed greens and sliced radishes; avocado spread; and an elegant dollop of labaneh served with olive oil and dusted with zatar. I particularly enjoyed breaking off pieces of bread and mixing and matching flavors from the various dishes in front of me.
After that came bruschetta with cherry tomatoes (NIS 33), served with pesto and mozzarella, with tons of garlic and lots of olive oil. This was so full of intense flavors, that I would definitely recommend that it be shared.
The highlight of our meal was next: a warm cinnamon croissant topped with scrambled eggs, sliced chili peppers and cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of maple syrup on top. This was something I have never seen or tasted before, and it was executed beautifully. The ideal balance of sweet, savory and spicy was struck with this original and delicious dish.
When I asked chef Rachel about it, she said that this wasn’t on the menu and didn’t have a name. She just wanted to try something a little “wild.” Hopefully, this dish will find its way on the menu soon.
Next, we were served a grilled eggplant served over labaneh and topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and chilies. This was a more subtle dish that was a welcome change from the strong flavors of the bruschetta and the cinnamon croissant egg delight.
The last dish was a nice signal that the breakfast part of our brunch was over: fish meatballs served on a sliced charred baguette with garlic, peppers and coriander, topped with tehina and served with a chopped salad on the side. This dish definitely put me in the mood for lunch, as the fish meatballs were light and fluffy and strongly resembled the taste and texture of a felafel.
We ended our brunch with a slice of cappuccino cheesecake: smooth and creamy cheesecake on a buttery cookie crust, topped with a light cappuccino ganache and garnished with crushed candied pecans. It totally hit the spot.
What I find most memorable about the café is that they take a lot of care in preparing the food for their customers.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Halamed Hey Café
26 Halamed Hey St., Jerusalem