Driving through downtown Jerusalem (especially during rush hour) has become a very frustrating task. Traffic is terrible and don’t even get me started on how long it can take to find a decent parking spot. Since I only had a couple of hours to kill before heading back to work, and I really needed a quick bite, I decided to avoid driving down town and made my way toward Nina’s at the Ramat Eshkol Shopping Center just a 5 minute drive from the French Hill.
Situated at the end of the plaza (next to the “Yesh” super market) Nina’s Café first opened its doors in 2003 and was named after the original founder and owner. A couple of years later Yinon Wolf, purchased the café and decided to keep the name. Nina’s is strictly kosher (under the supervision of Rav Rubin) and serves as a local neighborhood café and restaurant. It seemed that most of the customers were regulars and Ramat Eshkol residents with English being spoken at practically every other table.
After being seated on the patio we began reviewing the menu, Nina’s offerings include: breakfast specials (served until 12:00), fish, fresh & toasted bagels, pancakes, milk & fruit based shakes, salads, lasagna, quiches, pasta, soups and more. From 12:00-17:00 Nina’s offers a special business lunch menu (NIS 39-52) which includes a first and main course from the menu and a beverage.
All of the bagel sandwiches are served with a side salad. Personally, I would have ordered the “New Yorker”, a classic open faced bagel with cream cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce and, of course, plenty of lox. But since my friend couldn’t stand the smell of smoked salmon we ended up starting with a tuna melt and the onion soup. We continued with the eggplant parmesan and ravioli topped with Nina’s version of a Sicilian sauce (sliced black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, mushrooms and feta cheese). Both of the dishes were generous and nice, aside from the fact that the pasta was a bit oily. By the way, the restaurant also offers whole wheat pasta in a selection of sauces.
Time for dessert. After reviewing our options and hearing about the specials from our waitress, we decided to play it safe and ordered the chocolate soufflé and a couple of espressos. The soufflé was fine, but surprisingly, it was the coffee that shone. Once we realized what excellent coffee we had on our hands, we also tried Nina’s version of an ice coffee; a generous shot of espresso, milk, ice cubes and sugar to taste - sounds simple, I know, you’ll just have to try it for yourselves to understand that this coffee is a revelation.
Nina also hosts events for up to 40 people and offers strictly kosher dairy catering services for up to 100 people.
Ramat Eshkol Shopping Center, Jerusalem