I have to admit that it has probably been at least 7 years since I last visited the Bolinat. I used to frequent this quaint Jerusalem café-bar on a regular basis, primarily on Friday and Saturday afternoons which were always full, and at the time, this was one of the most happening places in town.
Situated in down town Jerusalem, just off Ben Yehuda St., Bolinat recently came under new ownership and partners Erez Sapir and Dor Moskovich decided to revive the café, bringing in live music, organize Friday street parties (Bolinat was once quite famous for these events), upgrade the menu, hold themed nights, offer special discounts and deals to students and regular customers. In short, anything in takes to make sure that the Bolinat is once again the place of choice for young Jerusalemites and tourists alike.
Bolinat is also one of the only places in town (to my knowledge Zuni and Aroma are also on that list) that is open 24/7, 364 days a year (closed only on Yom Kippur), hence if you are looking for a burger, sandwich or shakshuka at 4:00 am, dinner at 23:45 or simply feel like having an early breakfast on a Saturday morning, Bolinat is a good option.
The new menu is still a work in progress, so after some brief consultations and in order to make sure that the article is relevant, we decided to stick to some of the dishes that Erez sees as definite keepers – schnitzelonim, Bolinat salad and the Bolinat Burger. Erez mentioned that the new menu will also include “more serious” dishes, like steaks, seafood dishes and even a classic cordon blue, but assured us that prices will still be reasonable and the atmosphere will remain the same.
A pint of Tuborg for my friend and a pint if Weihenstephan for me, while waiting for the food to arrive, I browsed through the menu and noticed the interesting ‘shake’ section on the menu. Considering that it was 5 degrees Celsius outside and pouring rain, we decided to pass on this option, but on a warm summery afternoon, I can easily see my self sitting outdoors with a cold fruit based shake.
The food at Bolinat is nothing fancy or over the top, but it is everything that one could hope for in this kind of eatery. The ingredients are super fresh, the portions are VERY generous, the prices are reasonable and the service is casual and friendly. Of the three dishes that we sampled, my favorites were the Bolinat Salad and the schnitzelonim. The latter is a take on the traditional schnitzel, and has become a staple in Israeli bars. Deep fried - bite size schnitzels usually served with chips and a side salad – Bolinat’s version was very tasty, served extra hot and the sesame seeds added to the coating gave it a nice crunchy twist. The salad was delicious – a nice selection of fresh vegetables with plenty of feta cheese (or maybe it was bulgarit) and a generous mound of freshly pan-roasted nuts and seeds. Resident cook Swahil Shweiki, throws in a pinch of sugar before removing the nut mixture from the skillet. This little trick caramelizes the nuts, adding an extra layer of crunchiness and a pleasant sweetness to the salad.
For dessert we enjoyed the decadent chocolate pie served with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream and a couple of espressos. Overall, Bolinat is a cool and casual café – bar-restaurant and judging from the recent developments at the place, I am confident that we are in for a fun filled summer.