The Picky Eater

by Staff Reporter

FINEST Palestinian and Lebanese cuisine… with the option of bringing your own bottle for only €2 corkage! For a long overdue reunion of four old schoolfriends and an outstanding recommendation from one, Jerusalem looked set not to disappoint.
And so it came to pass. From the moment we entered to the moment we left (to see Germany rob Argentina in the World Cup final), the friendly service, and airy atmosphere provided an ideal setting for excellent conversation over good food and the best of wines!
The menu was extensive so it took a while to plump for our mains – you have been warned. But plump we eventually did with a smiling waiter steering us through the unfamiliar, finally allowing us to pick our starters before returning for the rest of our order.
There was no question of avoiding starters – which were chosen on the understanding of obligatory sharing. We hungrily selected falafel, baba ghanoush (roasted aubergine puree), fatoosh (a mixed salad scattered with fried pieces of Arabian bread) and hummus – to see if it was any different from the shop bought variety. And it was – less glutinous, more lemony, delicious. The pitta bread was also light, not remotely doughy.
The fatoosh with its tart hit of lemon and sumac was interesting while the falafel and baba ghanoush were swiftly polished off. We were tempted by shakshoka – eggs fried in olive oil with vine tomatoes, onion, garlic and chilli – but exercised discipline for the sake of our appetites: next time, maybe. The dishes were neither too much or too little; just enough to heighten anticipation of the next course. Each of the above cost around €6.
For the meal’s centrepiece, the vegetarian among us chose the Jerusalem mezza (hummus, baba ghanoush, fatoosh, stuffed vine leaves, falafel, samosa, tabbouleh, feta cheese) – and was exceedingly happy.
Two of us went for chicken: one for m’sakhan (chicken on the bone with red onion, olive oil, sumac, lemon, garlic and nutmeg served with flat bread, salad and fresh pomegranate); the other for chicken shish tqouk (pieces of marinated chicken breast charcoal grilled and served with naan bread). Judging by the empty plates later, another satisfying choice.
Last but not least, a kofta mash wiyeh (minced lamb with parsley, onion and pine nuts charcoal grilled and served with rice and a chickpea and chilli sauce) proved equally tasty – for all of us! Mains were priced at around €14 and upwards.
We also got a side dish of fragrant, crispy rosemary scalloped potatoes which we did not regret.
Desserts were plentiful but didn’t tempt us. The baklava seemed unexciting. The qatayef – pancakes stuffed with nuts, coconut, cinnamon and soaked in rose syrup – sounded too heavy. Knafeh – cream cheese topped with vermicelli, rose water and lemon syrup – was toyed with as was the harissa, a semolina cake soaked in rose water syrup, but eventually skipped over. Mahmoul bil tamer – sweet cake made with fresh dates – got the thumbs down – no one really liked dates. So judgement is deferred!
But overall, the verdict was mouthwatering, fresh and very more-ish. We will be going back.
Jerusalem, with its spacious quality and bold colourful wall hangings and paintings, is open seven days a week from 12 noon till late.
All food is prepared and cooked fresh on the premises. Bread and desserts are also made in-house – even the lemonade is homemade.

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