Sometimes we get to go on a time machine. Walking down the streets of Yamin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, one might feel as if having travelled 150 years back in time all the way to the end of the 19th century, when the area was covered with rocks, nothing but the ancient city of Jerusalem in sight. In local Montefiore restaurant, I get this kind of feeling.
Montefiore is located at the Konrad Adenauer Convention Center, where it feeds the next door boutique hotel guests. It is an Italian dairy restaurant, serving dishes that seem as though they were taken straight from the 1980s.
Achman Jubran, Montefiore's waiter, is probably one of the seniors in this profession. Jubran was born in a village at Hebron area, where he lived until the age of 7. 14 years old and only familiar with one word in Hebrew – Shalom - he had to leave home to help support the family by working in a Tel Aviv hotel. Within 8 months he learned the language, and due to his dedication, he was promoted to the position of a restaurant manager at the age of 15. In 1985 he moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and has been working in local restaurants ever since.
Montefiore restaurant aims to preserve familiar tastes, made with high quality produce. Main chef Meir Ben Harush did not get formal education in this field; like many others, he too learned everything he knows at home. Ben Harush, Jubran and the rest of the team made us feel at home too:
We started with some generous servings: sourish gnocchi in sweet tomato sauce; salmon Carpaccio which was smoked on the premises in a long complicated process; interesting long focaccia bread served with a sweet and shiny topping, and some nice dips such as pesto and sun-dried tomato spread.
We also tried a fig filled with goat cheese that was served in caramelized cream and walnuts. True, cream is a thing of the 1980s; still this is a highly recommended dish. The sweet sauce got along fantastically with the goat cheese saltiness while the fig's texture has kept to its own. We also had tortellini filled with goat cheese and cream sauce with Forchini mushrooms. This beautiful dish reminded me of my childhood.
Our main course was a plate of 3 fish dishes: sea bream in spice herbs, salmon and drum fish on a bed of beet greens, mushrooms and asparagus. They were all fresh and delicious.
Desserts got a 1980s version too: a tasty and creamy baked cheese cake, caramel cream, Bavaria cream in chocolate sauce and chocolate mousse that again, brought me back to my childhood. I highly recommend the nostalgic experience in Jerusalem's Montefiore.