Pichonka, Pichonka, Pichonka…what a cute name for a restaurant I thought to myself as I was driving up the picturesque road leading from Ein Kerem to Mosahv Nes Harim. To those who haven’t taken this road before, try to keep your eyes on the road and not be distracted by the beautiful scenery; the mountain side curves can be a bit dangerous.
Established three years ago, Pichonka is situated at the entrance to the Nes Harim Moshav with a breathtaking view of the Judean Hills and the Katlav Wadi. Gal Eisenberg, owner and chef wanted to establish a unique place which will serve both as a restaurant as well as a unique venue for special events. Today, the restaurant is open six days a week, offering a varied and kosher country style menu including breakfast specials, salads, pasta, fish, meat, baked treats all prepared on the premises. Make sure you call in advance as they may be closed for s private event.
Back to the name – apparently, Pichonka is chicken liver in Russian. Who would have known. Eisenberg mentioned that as his grandmothers on both sides, one of Russian origin and the other of Spanish origin used the same word for liver, he decided that it will be the name of his new place. The portions at Pichonka are overwhelmingly generous, so be sure to pace yourself and share. Our starters included an excellent dish comprised of sautéed fresh mushrooms (champignon, portabella and forest mushrooms) in a sweet and tangy Asian sauce. The mushrooms were prepared well, remaining firm and absorbing the flavors from the sauce. Home made chorizos and empanadas soon followed. The chorizos could have used a bit more spice, but both were quite tasty and it was evident that all of the ingredients were super fresh. Crispy focaccias are prepared in Pichonka’s outdoor taboon and served with an assortment of dips and toppings. If you arrive during the winter, rich casseroles and stews are also prepared in this stone wood-fired oven.
Pichonka takes pride in their meat dishes and we also sampled the special mixed grill, which included a couple of juicy kebabs with the lamb fat adding an extra kick, a skewer of entrecote, beef spare ribs, spring chicken AKA pargiyot (d-boned chicken thighs) and grilled vegetables. Served on a sizzling skillet and prepared medium, diners can decide how they want their meat by removing or leaving it in contact with the hot iron pan. Next was the restaurant’s signature dish, pichonka – chicken livers with a sweet Asian and chestnut glaze served atop potato puree (both sweet and regular potatoes were used) with a generous dose of crispy fried onions to top it off. The liver was prepared to perfection, remaining pinkish and juicy within while the sweet glaze complemented the sweet potato. Again, the portions are extremely generous, but hey we are not complaining.
Dessert was served family style and included four!!! scoops of pretty good (considering that it was parve) ice cream and home made chocolate nougat. Overall, the experience was very positive. Tasty, unpretentious and generous dishes, excellent service and a beautiful view, a perfect place for your next family get together. If you are already in Nes Harim, I would also recommend visiting Yosi Yitach and the Katlav winery. This boutique winery produces some fine reds that are well worth a try.
For those who are looking for a special places to hold their next family event, be it a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, graduation, brit or even company outing, Eisenberg and his team will whip up a special menu to your likings and all that you have to do is sit back and enjoy the view (I have friends who recently got married there and Pichonka came highly recommended). During the summer Pichonka can hold events for up to 400 guests and in the winter up to 250.