The top five upscale restaurants in Jerusalem
Jerusalem's dining scene is certainly not lacking for high-quality restaurant options, but there are a few that rise above the rest. Known to locals as "chef restaurants" (meaning, "restaurants where the menu is overseen by someone with international culinary school and professional kitchen experience," as opposed to being proper haute cuisine), these highbrow places often offer a wide array of options, from French cooking to fusion fare - and in Jerusalem, they are almost all kosher.
Israeli chefs have a penchant for traveling abroad to train with the world's best, so while Jerusalem may not sport any chefs with reputations like Daniel Boloud or Gordon Ramsay, the food you'll enjoy at some of the places is the closest approximation to it you can get without waiting years for reservations. Here's GoJerusalem.com's list of the best upscale restaurants in Jerusalem.
Gabriel offers a calm respite around the corner from the hyper-trendy dining bar scene of Shlomtzion Hamalka St. A low-key but high-class restaurant, Gabriel exudes classic style without looking like it's trying too hard. The restaurant is gangbusters in the kosher scene, but can hold its own even against the big boys of the treyf world. Gabriel offers classic European food done extremely well. The focus is especially on French cooking, with foei gras, veal tartar and chateaubriand steak all appearing on the menu.
Speaking of Shlomtzion Hamalka, the king of the street is undoubtedly Canela. If Gabriel is the Delanos of the kosher world, then Canela is the el Bulli, leaving behind its French culinary roots to create a menu of Israeli-inspired Mediterranean fusion food (though it's nowhere near as experimental as the Spanish super-restaurant). Standbys include half duck in orange sauce, lamb osso bucco and a dish combining foie gras and steak. The extensive wine list in nothing to scoff at either.
The French name may make you think otherwise, but La Guta actually serves a healthy mix of international fusion food inspired by local ingredients. La Guta boasts a constantly changing menu to keep with what's seasonal, but Mediterranean-style fish and other nods to local fare, like grilled eggplant with tehini and date honey, are pretty consistent. La Guta is unique in that on Fridays, the restaurant offers take-out food for the moneyed masses to enjoy on Shabbat.
The classic highbrow kosher eatery of Israel, 1868 is no flash in the pan. It's been around since before many of these other upstart upscale restaurants were even ideas in people's heads. The refined setting sets the scene for the food, which is a mix of the best of European traditions with a bit of local flair. Lamb ravioli and sweetbreads (made with Moroccan ras el hanout spice blends) share room on the menu with classic aged steaks and duck breast. The flavors are both locally familiar and international in scope. The kosher restaurant is also famous for its wine list, which features vino both super-local and hailing from as far away as South America.
Upstart Lara offers food from chef Lior Heftzadi, who cut his teeth at Jerusalem institutions Canela and Arcadia and also trained abroad. The setting is standard Jerusalemite, with stones and arches contrasting with white tablecloths. But at Lara, an open kitchen means diners can watch their food being prepared. The menu runs the gamut from Middle Eastern (kebab and lamb) to Italian (pasta and fish) to Spanish (mollejas and tongue a la plancha) and many points in between. The chef is not afraid to venture into some less common cuts of meat, with bone marrow concoctions also available.
Honorable mentions also go to Scala, the David Citadel's uber-fancy restaurant, featuring the culinary talents of Oren Yerushalmi and Meir Adoni; Angelica, a bistro that puts an emphasis on local ingredients; and Chakra, a trendy restaurant bar with international fusion cuisine.
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