You have to hand it to Chef Ran Aton for his courage, as he follows his dream and opens his own restaurant in Jerusalem's most prestigious area, setting a Mehadrin Kosher high standard, and proudly opening his restaurant's kitchen. Right in front of us, fine meat cuts are being roasted, fresh vegetables are getting stir-fried on pans, sauces are accepting one final touch, and plates are being beautifully presented.
La Pavee's concept reflects the chef's culinary origins: Tunisian cooking that he absorbed as a child, training with renowned Jerusalem chef Shalom Kadosh, education at the Cordon Blue and an internship with legendary Joel Robuchon. The menu skillfully wanders through Mediterranean dishes such as Tunisian Burik leaves and baladi eggplant, as well as personal interpretations of dishes taken from the classic French cuisine. Take for instance our starter – the gravlax. Home cured salmon cubes with a colorful, tasty twist of avocado cream, home-made aioli, date honey and garlic mini-toasts. It is a fun orange-white-green summer dish that gets us started.
Our two following first courses come from the Mediterranean kitchen, showing how even familiar dishes such as sweetbreads and eggplant in tahini can be upgraded, and it is the level of performance that makes the difference. The sweetbreads are enriched with garlic cream and browned onions that emphasize the fleshy character of the dish. The grilled eggplant, which is served whole, is accompanied by stripes of grilled peppers, and the tahini cover is enriched with date honey, garlic confit, and vinaigrette sauce and chili oil.
Now it's time for our main courses – the creative highlight of this meal. One is an entrecote roll – fine entrecote cuts that were flatted and slightly burnt, and then rolled with a filling of grilled vegetables, while all of this is laid over two lines of colorful cream – squash and smoked eggplant – with rich demi-glace sauce. The other is lamb ribs in spice herb crust, its preparation created a crispy-brown coating that keeps the meat pink and juicy on the inside. We just let go of manners and grab the food with our hands, nibbling it all the way to the bone. I should say something about the side dish risotto: the secret, so says the chef, is to use a concentrated mushroom sauce and tofu cream, both create a rich texture even when cream is not used at all.
Our dessert plate is a celebration of tastes and colors: mountains of passion fruit orange sorbet, deep purple berry sorbet, curly halva sorbet and home-made Krembo.
Want to try everything La Pavee has to offer but not to have an actual dinner? Go for the Friday cocktail parties. You will be surprised to find meat based dishes (as opposed to the usual dairy brunches), a beautiful bread bar, salad bar, cured and smoked fish and a choice of main course, plus cocktails and cigars. A wonderful way to get the weekend started.