I must admit that I am not part of the health food trend that swept through the country a number of years ago, nor am I a member or devout follower of any movement calling for the use of organic produce alone. I am a foodie! I enjoy good food! The fact that it is also healthy is merely a bonus and in cases where the ingredients happen to be organic - all the better.
I was rather skeptical when my editor requested that I pay a visit to a relatively new café in the Mahne Yehuda market called Alfonso – an intimate café & restaurant with a variety of “healthy” dishes and an extensive use of organic ingredients most of which are brought in on a daily basis from Zemora Organic Food – a leading supplier of organic products with outlets across the country. The menu at Alfonso Café includes standard dishes that one would expect to see on a café menu such as traditional breakfast specials (served all day), shakshuka, salads, sandwiches and the like alongside more innovative dishes including: roasted eggplant stuffed with goat cheese, fresh spinach, roasted peppers served with a cold yogurt sauce or the Portobello mushrooms filled with sautéed tofu cubes and cherry tomatoes and topped with root vegetable juliennes. Additionally, Alfonso offers a variety of takeout options, including: homemade salads and jams, premium organic products, boutique honey and more.
We visited Alfonso on a Monday night and were happy to see that the place was pretty full (the Café seats about 15). After a brief discussion with the owner who was busy preparing for the opening celebrations (7th, 8th, 9th of February), we decided to taste a couple of the dishes from the menu. The soup de jour comprising root vegetables, primarily onions, carrots and sweet potatoes needed a dash of salt but was pretty tasty. We also shared the Alfonso salad – lettuce, baby green mix, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and green lentils with fresh goat cheese, nuts and a balsamic-honey vinaigrette. All of the ingredients were fresh and flavorful – personally I prefer the thin and crunchy baladi cucumbers than the thicker variety but I guess that they do not grow them organically yet.
Following recommendations from the chef we ordered the Alfonso Triple and a promising dish coined Camembert Challah - a Camembert loaf filled with sautéed spinach, red onion and cherry tomatoes all wrapped in phylo dough and baked to the point where it is nice and crispy on the outside while the filling melts together and mixes the flavors and textures – an original and very tasty dish. The Alfonso Triple hails in from the ‘toast’ section on the menu and is in fact a triple-decker grilled cheese sandwich with Mozzarella, goat cheese, pesto, grilled peppers served with a side salad. Good flavors and fresh ingredients – nothing fancy but very good and really hit the spot. I also ordered a glass of the freshly squeezed beet-apple juice – sounds a bit strange but very very good.
Alfonso is also proud of their Organic Coffee which is truly excellent – both the espresso and the cappuccino were prepared well and the coffee beans are quite aromatic and flavorful. If you happen to be in the area on Fridays – check out Alfonso’s coffee + massage specials (Café U ’Mea’se – sounds better in Hebrew) where for NIS 43 customers can enjoy a cup of coffee and a Twina shoulder massage.
The size of the dishes, particularly in light of the very reasonable pricing make Alfonso into a pleasant and attractive place to enjoy a light meal on your next visit to AMchne Yehuda; oh and by the way the food is also very healthy.