Fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, spice herbs, pickles, hummus, soap, toothpaste, pet food, cleaning supplies, notebooks, glasses, necklaces, underwear, CDs, wigs – the Carmel market has it all.
Whenever I visit the market I only go from stand to stand. One is for onions, the other has the best tomatoes, here is a good spot to buy peppers, and the best Halva in town is right there. As it turns out, I've been missing out on most of the market's restaurants, and, of course, there are quite a few.
True, renowned Carmela Bistro is respected for its impressive history, the Basta is trendy, and still other market restaurants such as simple falafel spots have managed to escape me. I guess somehow I've always thought market restaurants are not as good as others. Well, this was a big mistake.
Moshe Agir (Moshiko, as his market friends would call him) comes from a family of market grocers. Realizing that we never bothered dining inside the market, he opened his restaurant – Dr. Mafrum – on 4 Rambam Street – a small alley leading from the main market road to Nahalat Binyamin.
Dr. Mafrum is really a tribute to Dr. Shakshuka – a well known Libyan restaurant located in Jaffa. Here traditional Libyan dishes are offered too: cuscus, cauliflower stuffed with meat, meat balls, chicken roast, stuffed vegetables, kibbeh, and others.
I was a little hungry when I got there, I have to admit, and so I had some of Dr. Mafrum's homemade hummus, pickles, fresh cabbage salad and churchi which is a spicy pumpkin delight.
I was still wiping it all with pita bread, when a big plate of delicate cuscus and freshly cooked vegetables came to my table, added with potato Mafrum, artichoke Mafrum and my favorite –cauliflower stuffed with meat. And how does one stuff cauliflower with meat? Well, one adds the meat gently in between the cracks, adds some on the sides, covers it all with homemade crispy coating and cook-fries it all together. The result is beautiful.
Food is served here until 6pm; an entire meal, which includes 5 different kinds of salads, pita bread, meat dish and side dishes, goes for nis38. On Fridays and before holidays the restaurant's tables are set outside and food is sold by weight. Also available here – food deliveries, catering services or a small office orders. Credit cards are accepted.
You take your market bags, and you leave this restaurant where the very few tables are covered by plastic maps, where the only wall decoration is a kashrut certificate printout, where there is not much more than a small hand washing sink and loud kitchen. You then realize that where good food is served, there isn't much need for much more.