My mother and I have been trying to get together for lunch for the past month or so. It’s not that we're such busy people, it's just that every time that we try to schedule a date, something else comes up: cousins visiting from abroad, work, birthdays, bachelor parties and the list goes on. Finally, last Thursday, we were able to squeeze a couple of hours into our schedules and sit down for a belated birthday brunch. Happy Birthday Mom!
After asking a few friends to recommend a good place for brunch, we decided on Rachela, a quaint restaurant café, in downtown Jerusalem. After a number of years in the catering business, owner and pastry chef Rachel decided that it was time to settle down and open a place of her own. The heavy French style wooden furniture, British tea pots and soft Israeli music playing in the background all come together and create a unique and very European and homey feel.
The menu at Rachela is very diverse and includes: a selection of breakfast menus, salads, pasta, fish, soup, business lunches, unique starters, British style scones, desserts, an impressive selection of tea and more. One of my favorite things about Rachela was the enclosed patio area situated in the back of the restaurant and the impressive Italian brick oven, where Rachel bakes fresh pizza, foccacia and even baked fish dishes.
‘This is delicious!’ declared my mom, as she bit into a freshly baked scone topped with butter and homemade jam. To be honest, growing up in Israel, I haven't had that many scones in my life, however, it turns out my mother is a real scone fan. She even compared Rachela's version to the scones served at high tea at Ottawa's prestigious Chateaux Laurier hotel.
Post scones, we ordered a couple of starters and several items from the breakfast menu. While we enjoyed the stuffed grape leaves, I personally preferred Rachela's homemade gravlax. Thin slices of tender cured salmon served with pickles, sour-cream, tomatoes and purple onions. The salmon was perfectly cured, a little sweet and just enough dill and black pepper. We also ordered Rachela's "treat platter", which basically includes an assortment of fresh salads, grilled vegetables, pickles and dips. The pesto was a bit disappointing and could really use a dash of parmesan or pecorino cheese, but everything else from the beet salad to the sundried tomatoes was pretty tasty.
I was about to pass on desert when our friendly waiter suggested that we try the cheesecake – one of my favorites. There's always room for cheesecake, I told my mother, hoping to convince myself that this was true. A cappuccino for mom and a double espresso for me, and slowly but surely, one bite at a time, the rich decadent slice of cheesecake was consumed.
If you're looking for a place to celebrate a birthday brunch, enjoy a good breakfast or business lunch or simply have a pot of Darjeeling tea while reading a book, Rachela's is the place to be.
5 Hhavazelet, Jerusalem