In Jerusalem, the restaurant Maalot is a great option if you are looking for a charming and, intimate place to dine. Inside the L-shaped restaurant with ceiling fans and trac lights; a few photographs on the white washed walls giving an air of simplicity. The bar is at one side with an entrance to the kitchen and fresh garlic hangs on the wall. Tables for 20 with room to expand are inside.
Image. Barry Kaplan, Jerusalem
The owner/chefs – Gad Yaari and Israel Bachar – have been friends since childhood. Yaari initially opened the restaurant in June 2010. He called it Maalot because it is located on Maalot Street, which had the first building in Jerusalem with an elevator, amaalit, as well as meaning going up spiritually. Because he personally is a baal tchuva (returnee to modern Orthodoxy), the name symbolized his going up. Bachar, who learned at Hadassah College and worked many years in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv restaurants, joined Yaari two years ago.
On the menu. there are 10 main entrees (which we did not sample) – ranging from 85-145 NIS. These include lamb kebab, beef tongue and ribs, salmon steak and Argentinian entrecote–each served with bread and choice of two side dishes from roast potatoes, rice, mashed potatoes, green beans or green salad. One can also enjoy “chef tastings” of three courses for 175 NIS, five courses for 235 NIS or seven courses for 275 NIS. Every day there are at least two specials; on some days, there are four or five. The menu also offers one soup and four 4 salads (32-63 NIS). The real specialty of the house are tapas – 17 different ones (15-25 NIS each).
Customers are treated (and it is a real treat!) to special bread with four dips while ordering. On the evening we visited Maalot, the French-style loaf of bread had dill, sea salt and onion on top; the dips were carrots, beets, roasted eggplant and spicy tomatoes.
Image. Barry Kaplan, Jerusalem
Then came the tapas. Home-made humus (20 NIS) was garnished with chick peas, red tchina from red peppers and salsa. Made with olive oil and basil, it was exceptional!
From a 7th generation family recipe, we tried the amazing leek and beef patties (15 NIS) on a bed of baby greens, traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah, made from ground sirloin steak. Yaari’s grandmother took the recipe from his grandfather’s mother. My companion is always in heaven when mushrooms are served, and the stuffed mushrooms (15 NIS) with leeks, sundried tomatoes and tassos olives were a dream with the beautiful presentation of balsamic vinegar and pomegranate sauce design. Salmon carpaccio, with salmon from Norway, was light, delicate and fresh tasting–made with balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and olive oil (20 NIS).
Next came home-made lamb merguez sausages with pesto and red peppers and roast vegetables(25 NIS). This North African dish, made from ground lamb and veal rib eye, is stuffed into a lamb intestine casing and served with Dijon and mustard seed mustards. It was a little spicy but wonderful and would make a terrific breakfast or brunch dish with eggs. The last tapas was a Moroccan dish – fresh duck breast (organic) cooked with cinnamon, raisins, plums and apricots (25 NIS). For a duck lover like myself, it was fantastic.
Sampling tapas was enough for us, and all we needed to complete the review was one of the five desserts (20 and 35 NIS), so the chef surprised us with a gourmet presentation of a home-made, pareve, vanilla dome with two kinds of chocolate inside, a chocolate crumb base and gold fibers over it, surrounded by fresh apricot slices and mint leaves.
If all of these gourmet dishes tempt you for mid-day, Maalot offers business lunches from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. t 49, 59 and 69 NIS and includes one tapas, bread with dips, a main course and two side dishes.
Maalot is a unique, relaxing and fun place to eat with knowledgeable, friendly waiting staff.