The most magical thing at a café is that there is no need to find an excuse to visit one. Unlike restaurants that get reserved for birthdays – mine, my wife’s, the kids’, Elivis’, whoever’s. But with a café, you can always say: “I went to a café yesterday. Why? Cause I felt like it!” All you need in a café is a newspaper, a laptop, or someone to talk to, and of course, a menu that will help pass the time nicely.
This morning we planned to meet, a good friend and I, at a café near the University, but not too close, because we didn’t want to feel like we were at a study meeting. In the well-sized commercial center in the nearby neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol there are a number of cafes. We decided not to be like all those sheep heading one after the other to one of the large café chains and instead selected Nina’s, located on the eastern side of the plaza and offering wireless internet. At Nina’s there is a small bar topped with cakes and opposite the bar a number of small round tables. The walls are covered in lovely wallpaper and a small round window allows us to peep into the kitchen. Outside, a nylon structure protects garden diners from the winter weather – which in Jerusalem really is wintery.
Shimi suggested we sit outside. “Despite the cold”, he said, “the tables there are larger.” We asked the waitress to turn on the tall mushroom like heater – a real lifesaver in the winter. We asked a little about Nina’s, and were told the café opened in 2004 and then 2 years ago was bought by new owner Yinon Vallach, who is also the cook. The waitress added that family event’s are also held at Nina’s from time to time. The menu at Nina’s was created by a professional chef, and this can be sensed in its variety. The menu at Nina’s starts with a few small appetizers like halumi cheese and vegetable skewers, Italian cheese sticks and more. We ordered a single dish of the cheese sticks. They arrived within a few minutes, crisp and brown on a bed of lettuce alongside dish of orange tomato and oregano sauce for dipping. The sauce was well made and added a lot of flavor to the cheese sticks.
The menu at Nina’s continues with a wide range of pastas, quiches, bagels and salads. It was still early in the morning and the thought of the day ahead quickly destroyed the idea of ordering a large plate of lasagna or ravioli. Shimi ordered the bagel with slices of smoked salmon and cream cheese, a charming dish and not too heavy that suits one and all. I ordered the mushroom quiche – a massive square of tasty homemade quiche. To my pleasure, I had a large appetite that morning and managed to gobble it all up. Every dish was served with an Arab style side salad of coarsely chopped vegetables allowing a light and neutral pause between rich bites.
We didn’t allow our full stomachs to subdue us and ordered the house dessert – chocolate topped cheesecake with chocolate syrup and roasted coffee beans. We accompanied the cake with some coffee, which helped us conquer the meal to the last bite. At Nina’s, no one goes home hungry.
7 Faran Street, Ramat Eshkol Commercial Center, Jerusalem