Opening my email inbox and finding a note from my editor requesting that I go and visit one of the restaurants or bars in Ein Kerem is always a treat. Ein Kerem is by far my favorite neighborhood in Jerusalem, if not the entire country – too bad rent and real estate prices are so high!
Reserving a table for 19:30, we arrived a bit early and decided to wander around for a while and work up an appetite. In retrospect this turned out to be a very smart move. Greeted with a smile, we arrived at the newly renovated Pundak Ein Kerem (Hebrew for the Ein Kerem Inn) and were given the option of sitting inside or on the enclosed and heated patio area. Since we wanted to enjoy the view overlooking the narrow alleyways, churches and surrounding hills, we opted for a table situated near the window and began reviewing the menu.
After being closed for over a year and undergoing extensive conservation and renovation work, Pundak Ein Kerem was finally reopened some five months ago. An old Arab Spanish-inspired structure with a large courtyard and several balconies, enclosed and heated during the winter, very impressive arches, beautiful-colorful ceramic tiles and decorated ceilings, Pundak Ein Kerem is situated on Hamaayan Street, offering visitors free and much needed parking solutions nearby.
The menu at Pundak Ein Kerem offers a variety of generous breakfast specials salads, stews, pastas, pizzas, fish, chicken, meat and even a children's menu. If you happen to be in the neighborhood on weekdays between 12:00-17:00 you can also enjoy business lunch specials starting at NIS 59.
Since it was rather chilly outside, we ordered two types of soup and the house foccacia with garlic confit. The soup de – jour was a white bean, tomato and smoked goose breast stew. The soup was very tasty and really hit the spot, but the true star of this round was the goulash, considered by many to be the house specialty. A hardy tomato, potato, carrot and beef based stew all deliciously seasoned using several unique types of paprika imported from Hungary. We even had to wipe the dish clean using the fresh homemade focaccia!
Since I was driving, we decided to skip the booze, but if you are lucky enough to have a designated driver, Pundak Ein Kerem's bar also offers an array of interesting cocktails, including the Pund-Arak – an arak based cocktail with lemon, mint, diced cucumber and other secret ingredients.
For our main courses, we opted for one fish dish and one meat dish – pistachio and herb crusted salmon with a tangy tomato sauce on the side for the lady and a rib eye steak prepared medium with chimichuri sauce for me. All main courses at Pundak Ein Kerem also include a choice of a side dish: salad, creamy mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, rice or French fries. Both dishes were very generous and prepared to our preference. The fish was moist, and the flavorful, crunchy crust really complemented the salmon.
With just enough room left for dessert, we decided to keep it simple, ordering the cheesecake and a scoop of pecan ice cream. Mint tea and a concentrated cup of espresso and it was time to head back home.
By the way, Pundak Ein Kerem also hosts private events (up to 60 people) in an intimate upstairs dining room offering a beautiful view of the neighborhood.