I often find that many of the bars in Israel lack a certain sense of character; the menus are the same (with carpaccio, eggplant and tahina and mini schnitzels as the house specialty), they offer the same every day beers and alcoholic beverages, feature similar decor and even the same play list. This is why Barood is one of my favorite places in downtown Jerusalem, if not the entire country.
Some 15 years ago, Daniella Lerer decided that it was time to leave her job as a Tel Aviv producer and join the Jerusalem night life. Situated in the picturesque Feingold courtyard, just off Jaffa road, Barood is simply oozing with character and authenticity that makes you feel right at home. The walls are covered with various eclectic collections of paper notes, pictures, bottle openers and other pub memorabilia. The impressive arches and heavy wooden beams along with the décor, music and booze selection come together to create a simultaneously Jerusalemite and European feel (if there is such a thing). Where else can you order a dish of pickled matias herring served with sour cream and potato salad to go with your beer or schnapps?
The crowd at Barood is very diverse and multi-national with local Jerusalemites, tourists, embassy personnel and foreign journalists treating it as a home away from home.
The menu includes a wide variety of dishes that, at first glance, may seem a bit random, but after speaking to Daniella for a few minutes it all came together. Holding the menu, she smiles “this is the story of my life – here are the dishes I grew up and raised my kids on, these two are from a friend of mine, everybody needs a salad with their meal and these go very well with beer, oh and of course, our excellent steaks”. Now that everything was crystal clear we placed our orders for main courses.
We decided to skip the spare ribs and go for the lamb in Guinness stew (as it appeared on the menu) which was a bit disappointing. The stew turned out to be an individual Sheppard’s pie - while the mashed potatoes atop was very tasty, the meat was quite salty, hence we decided to focus on the second entrée which just arrived to the table.
Barood is one of the only places where one can still find traditional Sephardic - Jeruselamite dishes: unique casserole and soup dishes, sufrito – melt in your mouth beef cooked slowly with Jerusalem artichoke and potatoes, patelicos – a very tasty homemade version of meat bourekas served with hard boiled brown eggs and a small salad, fried Egyptian fool (fava beans) chips and more. If you feel like having a traditional dish for dessert, order the sutlach, a cold rice pudding topped with cinnamon, nuts, and jam – heavy and tasty were the waitress’s words.
The espresso was strong and concentrated, just as I like it. Another shot of Barood’s homemade flavored vodka and we began heading for the door. Walking out, we bumped into a known local artist whose paintings adorn the walls and even the placemats at Barood. A few of minutes into our conversation I noticed that it was almost 00:15. Wow - time really does fly when you are having fun – some 3.5 hours after we first arrived we stepped back out to the cold Jerusalem night – satisfied, full and slightly tipsy.
31 Yaffo Street, Jerusalem