There is nothing like being a “regular” at your local hang out. Be it the neighborhood pub or a small café, it's always nice to see a familiar face, to always get nice service and, as the song goes, to be in a place 'where everybody knows your name….'
As a person who grew up in Jerusalem and regular at the Machne Yehuda market, I try and visit the Emile cafe in the enclosed part of the market as often as possible.
Owners, Avi & Ohelia, have a true passion for fresh seasonal produce. When speaking to Ohelia about the available produce in the market she mentioned that ”at Emile’s, aside from spices and condiments, we don't have any stock. Every morning Avi goes on his daily morning route, handpicking the best vegetables and fruits he can find. If for some reason we can't find a certain ingredient, we apologize and tell our customers that that specific dish is out. At Emile we don't believe in substitutes.”
As a regular at Emile’s café, you may think that my objectivity has been impaired. However, if the food, service and coffee weren’t as good as they are, I would have long ago found an alternative hangout.
I’d recently noticed that Emile introduced a new menu and decided to drop by and check it out. Skipping the familiar Khachapuri - a traditional crispy Georgian pastry stuffed with cheese and the famous spinach shakshuka, I instead focused on menu's new additions.
We started off with the halumi salad and house bread. The salad was fresh and generous, featuring various types of lettuce and greens topped with warm slices of halumi cheese and a delicate dressing. The house bread was a treat; Emile bakes all their breads and pastries. Resembling a focaccia, the crispy round bread topped with sea salt, olive oil and garlic is served with three dips: tapenade, tehina and an excellent red pepper dip. My only suggestion would be to use minced garlic rather than slices, to cut down on the garlic's sharpness of the garlic.
The homemade sweet potato ravioli was tasty as well. It was prepared in a mushroom-herb cream sauce and cooked al dente just as we like it. For our second main, we decided to go for the Portobello burger – a grilled Portobello mushroom, goat cheese, vegetables and a fresh bun, which sounded delicious. Sadly, a couple of minutes after ordering it, Avi returned with an apologetic smile and said that they couldn’t find fresh Portobello mushrooms and therefore could not prepare the dish – I guess that means we'll have to come back for it.
The apple tart we had for dessert was a tad disappointing; although tasty, the crust was not of the right texture and didn't quite hold together. If you come earlier in the day, I would recommend ordering Emile’s decadent cheese cake.
Emile also offers a variety of breakfast menus (served all day) and business lunch options (NIS 45-65). So if you're looking to sit back and enjoy a full fresh meal or just put down your shopping bags, read the paper and sip on a cup of joe, Emile café is the place for you.
Glancing over at the colorful spice stall and vegetable stands while sipping on my espresso, my friend said that Emile offers a lot more than just good coffee and food: it provides a full Israeli market experience.
8 HaTut Street, Machne Yehuda Market, Jerusalem