My friend and I have been trying to get together for dinner for over a month now. I don’t want it to sound like I am complaining or anything, but sometimes, I feel that it is a lot easier to get together with my friends who live up in the Golan Heights than it is to get together with those who live around the corner (in this case literally!).
After many phone calls and several cancellations, we finally arrived at the Olive & Fish restaurant in Jerusalem. Established some seven years ago by long-time restaurateur Rafi Nachum, Olive & Fish offers a wide and varied menu, which includes various meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes.
On the way to our table, I couldn’t help notice the all pictures of Jerusalem hung on the wall. Rafi, a proud Jerusalemite, “introduces” the people and scenes, with a smile and a certain nostalgia for times gone by.
Once seated, a variety of salads and dips were placed before us including: beats, corn salad, artichoke salad, pickled vegetables, stuffed grape leaves and more. We particularly enjoyed the grilled eggplant & tahina and the sweet potato-chili salad. The eggplant was soft and the lemony tahina topped with fresh parsley was tasty. The stuffed grape leaves, or “yaprach”, as they are known locally, were slightly overcooked; hence the rice was a bit soggy.
Before continuing with the meal, I asked Rafi for the grand tour. Apparently the restaurant also has a private upstairs room, which can seat up to 65 people. At its prime location, opposite the Liberty Bell Park and on the crossroad between many of Jerusalem’s finest hotels, this is an ideal location for small bar mitzvahs, company outings or any other occasion.
For our main course we decided to sample a variety of dishes, hoping to get a better sense of what the restaurant has to offer from a culinary point of view. It is difficult to define the type of cuisine offered at Olive & Fish. However, upon closer examination of the menu, one can notice Asian, French and Middle Eastern influences. The fish fillet in white wine, lemon juice and herbs was absolutely delicious. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sautéed spinach and the pickled lemon-pepper chutney were a refreshing change. We also enjoyed the spring-chicken in date honey (silan) and date sauce and the chicken breast in coconut milk, soy sauce, cilantro, pineapple, ginger and green onions. The latter offered a bit of kick on the finish (I'm not sure if it was the ginger or the chili), which satisfied my partner’s craving for spice.
Before heading back out into the cool Jerusalem night, I took one last look at the pictures on the wall. Smiling, I thought to myself that despite all of the renovations going on in downtown Jerusalem, some things never change.
2 Jabotinski St., Jerusalem