If you are coming to Jerusalem soon and can arrange to have breakfast or brunch (lunch and dinner too!) in a place with atmosphere, nostalgia, history and outstanding food, you must come to the Landwer Café at the First Station, the Jerusalem end of the original Jaffa-Jerusalem train line which has opened in 2013 as a leisure venue in the heart of Jerusalem.
The first ever Landwer cafe in Jerusalem. Image Barry A Kaplan
In 1919, Moshe Landwer opened a coffee shop, also selling coffee, in Berlin. In 1933, he came to Palestine and opened a coffee shop on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. Today, there are approximately 20 Landwer cafes around the country, and Landwer is Israel’s second largest coffee company–manufacturing, distributing, importing and exporting.
Our host, Elav Kislasi, an informative, personable young man, who left the army a year and a half ago, knew about the Landwer coffee shops, liked their principles of the best in fresh foods and became the manager/franchisee for this, the first one in Jerusalem. Originally from Jerusalem, which he loves, he wanted to do something that had not been done before.
Granola and Honey with Fresh Fruit. Image Barry A Kaplan
We decided to emphasize breakfasts because whether you are sitting inside the restaurant or outside on the deck, on a nice day, imagining the trains that pulled through here is a special experience.
As you enter the restaurant, you see the original stone walls; the new tile floors fit perfectly in this main room, which has wood tables and a few booths to seat 48. At the rear is a glass wall, separating the restaurant from the kitchen and partially decorated with train station signs.
A mirror on another original stone wall separates it from the bar room which has more exposed stone walls and other original walls. There are 14 seats at the bar and 14 at tables. Outside on the deck are wood tables with wicker chairs and some padded couches–seating 50.
Mediterranean Shakshouka. Image Barry A Kaplan
The menu offers the Landwer breakfast for one (54 NIS) or two (102 NIS) and 9 other choices. There are 6 salads (take away or sit down). served with garlic bread or focaccia.
Eight sandwiches are available in halves or whole, tale away or sit down, on grain bread, served with a green salad.
Obviously, Landwer is a great place for lunch, dinner, a daytime or late evening snack, so there are 6 snacks (19-33 NIS); 3 pizzas–take away (37-42 NIS) or sit down (39-44 NIS); and 10 pans or main entrees (meat, poultry and pasta)–49-64 NIS.
Landwer Breakfast for Two. Image Barry A Kaplan
A special children’s menu (not often available in most restaurants) has six choices.
Besides three special sweets (rozalach, hot chocolate cake and Belgian waffle), there are 8 other sweets offered (14-38 NIS).
A wide variety of coffees, juices, beers, soft drinks, wines, cold drinks, teas and special Turkish coffee are also served.
And you can purchase a 250-gram package of six different fresh-ground coffees for 39 NIS to take home.
We started breakfast with the “Landwer’s Breakfast for 2” with the “Farmer’s” addition (112 NIS). This included a mushroom/spinach/leek/goat cheese omelette, morning salad and small tastes of tuna salad, cream cheese, feta cheese, egg salad, grilled vegetables, beet tabouli, cherry tomato and mozzarella, fruit jam, labneh with zaatar, butter and tea. Yogurt with granola and honey were served in two miniature soup tureens with tiny demitasse spoons. The bread basket of home-made breads included a mini loaf of bread, two warm sesame seed rolls, two warm burekas and two slices of crusty whole wheat bread. Everything but the omelette and morning salad was served on a very large tray, beautifully arranged.
What can we say except everything was exceptionally tasty!
We also tried tastes of one of our favorites–Mediterranean shakshouka (55 NIS) served in a black, cast-iron skillet, made with feta cheese, eggplant and parsley added. (Shakshouka is a Tunisian dish of a poached egg in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices.) The skillet came on a wood cutting boar garnished with mint leaves, a mini loaf of bread and tchina.
The shakshouka was particularly flavorful and not spicy, with a wonderful blending of ingredients for the sauce.
Chef Mudi Sayad, who has been with Landwer for four months but worked in other Jerusalem restaurants the past six years, sent us a sweet, healthy finale–granola and honey over 4.5% yogurt with artistically-arranged red and green apple slices and sliced bananas o top–in a white flowered china bowl on a matching flowered plate.
As we said, the atmosphere, the friendly and attentive waiters, and the whole environment make for a wonderful dining experience–for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, dessert or a snack.
The author and photographer were guests of the restaurant.