One minute before the holiday season kicked in, I invited my partner to an afternoon delight in Ein Kerem, where we could breathe some fresh air as well as peace and quiet.
The natural grove of Jerusalem's mountains, the magnificent stone houses, the churches and craftsman workshops, all turn Ein Kerem into one of the most beautiful, romantic places in Israel. Brasserie Ein Kerem is a new restaurant located near Mary's Spring. The restaurant's chef, Liraz Sade, has Michelin star work experience in restaurants such as Oceana in New York, and she also used to work for local establishments such as Lavan in Jerusalem. Connection to the local cuisine characterizes her kitchen: classic dishes emphasize local spice herbs such as hyssop and mint, and seasonal materials get a French touch. Brasserie's wine menu includes a wide variety of Israeli boutique wines, especially from Judah Mountains and Terebinth Valley. The restaurant has 2 levels: the first floor includes 2 classically decorated rooms with arched windows and stone and glass elements; the second is a wide, open, panoramic rooftop, paved with a wooden deck on which blue sunshades shade some straw chairs and tables. This is where we chose to sit, next to a vine bush, on that late afternoon.
Brasserie Ein Kerem's menu offers a wide variety of starters, salads, meats, fish and seafood. We started with grilled eggplant that was served on parna bread, topped with sliced tomato, green leaves, pine cones and Tehina sauce. The parna absorbed this variety of flavors, and the combination created a colorful, juicy dish. We also had the meat antipasti that included beef carpaccio, roast beef and goose breast, veal prosciutto and kabanos. All of these were added with capers, red onions, garden rocket, pickles and mustard. While we were waiting for the main courses, a group of tourists from Finland was slowly approaching Mary's Spring, and the nearby church bells were starting to sound. Exactly then, as if by sign, the main courses arrived at the table. Noam, following the kind waiter's recommendation, ordered one of the restaurant's flag dishes – pita bread with fish. The pita that was divided into 2 was sitting on a Falafel tray, and inside each half laid juicy sea fish kebabs that were prepared with spice herbs and eggplants. The Israeli salad side dish was topped with labane cheese and a pinch of lemon. Tasteful home fries were served with fried onions and chili sauce. Only then did I realize that the menu offers a butcher's cut, which is my favorite. The steak portions were properly sealed on the outside and medium-rare on the inside. Between the 2 of us, nothing was left.
Meanwhile, beautiful colors of fall sunset were decorating the skies. The dessert that we took with us as we followed the sun on its journey to the west was canole and mascarpone – fried pastry rolls stuffed with sweet rich mascarpone cream, which were served with sliced tunas and yellow mango sauce. It was a special dish, aesthetic and satisfying. We left the restaurant filled with good spirits, ready for the holiday season.