Once again I found myself walking the familiar paths leading to the Western Wall, squeezing tiny folded prayers in between its cracks, throwing candies at a 13-year-old cousin, it was only yesterday that he was born, was it not? Oh, how time flies.
I was getting hungry and thought I might try my luck at one of the hummus places at the Machne Yehuda market, but then the Bar Mitzva boy's father offered we'd have lunch at a restaurant called Between the Arches.
Location Location Location
Between the Arches is a well-known establishment, one of those places that have no need for campaigns or PR managing. 4 walls of Jerusalem ancient stone and magnificent arches make it feel like it was taken from a different time and place. It could have easily been Herod the Great's dining room.
And Here Comes the Cook
Chef Shay Lucati has been creating a culinary alternative for the Western Wall visitors for 11 years now. In a city of impossible connections, this place seems to be impossible – located in between the Muslin and the Jewish quarters, serving comforting and sophisticated food, kosher and gourmet.
Kosher cooking has often been impossible for some cooks, but here this limitation has rather given the cook the opportunity to create a surprisingly creative menu. Let us start with a story about a Jewish couple I saw sitting at the restaurant. While the man was indulging himself with a juicy, suspicious steak which was served next to a pile of creamy mashed potatoes, his humbled wife was enjoying steaming ravioli covered by parmesan cheese and Béchamel sauce. Is that so? For dessert they had home-made ice cream and cappuccinos. What in the devil's name was going on? Could it be that the Messiah had arrived and abolished all commandments?
It wasn't an easy task for Lucati. He has not left the kitchen for a year, and with his well- developed culinary sense, tens of years of experience, uncompromising produce, good fish and a good sense of humor, he has managed to tango with kosher restraints while refining his eclectic cuisine.
Among the great salads and dairy dishes we had, I counted fish skewers, a wonderful fish Kibbeh soup, and mixed grill made of burnt bass fish, mushrooms, chickpeas, eggplants and surprising seasoning that was laid on a bed of freshly baked Lafa bread. All of this, you should remember, in a dairy-kosher restaurant. The dishes were generous, aesthetic, and it was an indulging pleasure.
On your next visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, make sure you reserve a table.