Cafe Rozette combines a perfect old city Jaffa location, the quiet sea breeze and delicious in-house roasted coffee, making it a perfect stop for the coming warm seasons. Lindsay Citerman samples a number of traditional treats and takes a break to enjoy the relaxation here on a Tuesday afternoon.
On an almost daily basis, I run by the clock tower square on the border between Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Each time I have a moment when I glance at the café on the southeast “corner” and think to myself that they have an incredible location for success. They are situated in an ancient looking building, just behind the mock white columns erected in the past couple of years, shining just a bit too brightly next to the other old buildings. Despite renovations just next store that makes one question whether Café Rozette is open for business, I had the pleasure of discovering last week that they absolutely are. In addition to their spectacular location, Café Rozette boasts some of the most delicious coffee I have tasted in the entire city.
Orit and I set our visit to Rozette in the afternoon to enjoy the casual atmosphere. The café is quite large, with an indoor section that feels a bit like a quiet diner, with partial wood trim walls and a deep emerald green color painted above for accent. Walking in to the café, one feels relaxed immediately. Rozette also boasts a wide patio looking out over the clock tower and, if one looks closely, a view over the sea. Currently the patio is partially covered by Holland glass walls, though in the summer, we are told, all will be open under large cloth umbrellas. Next to the patio is the coffee-roaster, a small machine that blasts out a delicious smell of fresh roasted coffee. Our Rozette has their own special blend of coffee and all their meats and specialty products come from the Hinawi chain and are of the highest quality.
Rozette’s kitchen is a small, homey affair. Their menu features local specialties, many assembled by aunts and grandmothers from among Rozette’s family and friends. I almost all of the dishes, I tasted the delicious touch of someone who loves to prepare these foods. Our meal began with a small taste of the platter called Mu’ajent: mini-pastries filled with tasty treats, served with slice vegetables and yogurt sauce. Filled with green or black olives, spinach and onions or cheese, all the pastries were fresh and served steaming hot. My personal favorites, of course, involved olives.
We sampled a few of Rozette’s house specialties. It turned out that our visit came just days before they changed their menu, dramatically expanding their offerings. These days, in addition to bread dishes and salads, you can enjoy meats and various slow-cooked stews. Rozette’s Mujadarra was a highlight, with richly flavored lentils and a dark colored rice. Paired with plain sour yogurt and a chopped vegetable salad, Orit especially enjoyed this dish. I preferred the different stuffed vegetables, each featuring slightly different rice fillings accented with nuts and spices. Zucchini was paired with almonds and pine nuts, cabbage with tomatoes and a red pepper with chickpeas. Beyond these subtle differences, though I could not identify in what way, but each rice had its own distinct spice mix. The thin rich tomato dipping sauce served with this platter surprisingly complimented all three. Another dish we sampled was the quinoa salad with roasted carrots, mushrooms, red onions and a light lemon olive oil dressing and a tehini silan (date honey) dipping sauce.
I could hardly imagine eating more, but we still had to sample at least one of Rozette’s homemade desserts. Although the cookies and cakes scattered on the bar all looked delicious, we went with the more traditional semolina cake, served with sweet cream, simple syrup and pistachios. The subtle sweet of this delight was a clean and refreshing finish to our delicious meal. Of course do not forget to sample Rozette’s coffee - it is seriously among the best I have ever tasted and I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur.