Heavenly Angelica

Angelica takes kosher fine dining to a whole new level with its seasonal dishes with fine grill touches.

It was with some trepidation that I accepted aninvitation to Angelica restaurant on Rechov Shatz last week. Havingbeen open for two years already, the place has almost slipped under myradar, and I had heard neither good nor bad reviews. For this reason Isomewhat pessimistically assumed that it had joined the cabal ofoverrated and soulless kosher meat eateries that line the streets ofJerusalem's Emek Refaim and the city center.

Uponwalking through the door however my fears began to melt away, as wewere greeted by a stylish 80 seater dining room which oozed sheeksophistication while at the same time remaining remarkably homey andcozy. The centrepiece of the room was a large table covered in gorgeousmarinated antipasti, which I was soon to discover came free as apreliminary source.

The inspiration behind chef and co-owner Erez Mergi's eclecticmenu is fresh, seasonal produce, so it was with no hesitation that Ishunned traditional starter options such as carpaccio and pate, andwent for the Specials' option of Jerusalem artichoke soup with foiegras. Bang in season, the pureed artichoke was velvety, flavorsome andthick, and was perfectly complimented by the small pieces of searedfoie gras. My companion - a fish lover - decided on the 'catch of theday', a beautiful pan fried barramundi with crispy skin and sublimelydelicate white flesh, served with asparagus and on a pickled Jerusalemartichoke. This particular fish was sourced in Jerusalem's MahaneYehuda market, but the chef can regularly be seen travelling the lengthand breadth of Israel to ensure only the best quality arrives at yourtable.

For main course, I had the lamb served two ways - a slow cookedshoulder which fell off the bone, and pink and succulent baby lambchops. While I'm not convinced the two went well together, individuallythey were both excellent, and the chops in particular, served with amint chimichurri, were heavenly. My companion had room for theEntrecote steak, ordered as is fashionable nowadays, by weight. Thequality of the meat, together with simplicity of the seasoning and thevegetable accompaniments elevated the dish to another level, and wasdescribed as easily the best steak he'd sampled in months.

With over 100 bottles of wine in the cellar,Angelica's choice is vast, and we left it to attentive andknowledgeable co-owner Marcus Gershkowitz to recommend a lovely IsraeliCabernet Sauvingon that was equally comfortable with the fish as it waswith the meat. The dessert selection (between 36 and 42 nis), while notquite as varied as the wine, was nonetheless interesting, inventive anddelicious. A unique chocolate concoction with cherries and a saffroncream provided a decadent end to our meal.

Angelica's late summer/autumn menu, influenced deeply bychefErez' passion for seasonal, local and good quality ingredients, is asmall triumph. Containing only 10 starters and 10 mains, there is stillmore than enough choice to please everyone. A vegetarian could happilydine here alongside a staunch carnivore, and the barramundi starter wasas good a fish dish as I have tasted anywhere in Israel. With thebitter Jerusalem winter edging ever nearer, one of the few things tolook forward to is the imminent launch of Angelica's winter menu, andif the Jerusalem artichoke soup is anything to go by, it will bedelicious.

Angelica is located at 7 Rehov Shatz, Jerusalem,(02) 623-0056. It is open Sun-Thu 6-11 p.m. Sat 7:30-11 p.m. Startersfrom NIS 32, Mains from NIS 69. Kosher. The writer was a guest of therestaurant.