Update – this restaurant has since closed.
For the past 3 years, if anyone has asked me what my favorite restaurant in Jerusalem was – the answer was without doubt, Canela. Whether it was dinner with visiting family, a girls night out, a date or a business lunch – Canela was ALWAYS good. The waiters were attentive, the ambiance was fun but not too noisy and the food was always perfectly cooked, a unique combination of flavors and beautifully presented. However, recently all that changed. Funnily enough, Canela survived losing their Chef Marcos Gershkovitz to Angelica a few years ago, the service and quality of the food remained excellent.
However, it seems that when Chef Lior Heftzadi moved around the corner to open his own restaurant Lara – Canela did not survive so well. I have been back a few times since he left and to begin with, the menu only changed slightly and the excellent waiting staff were still there. I had heard bad stories from friends who had seen the writing on the wall, but I was still optimistic!
But for me, all that has now changed. Last night, I went to Canela with a group of 6 friends, some had been there before, but for some it was their first time at my “favorite” restaurant and I was excited for them to try it. The restaurant had made a mistake with our booking but quickly rectified the problem and gave us a great table in the middle and a bottle of sparkling wine as an apology – not a bad start. However, there was a new manager who insisted on coming over to talk to us on numerous occasions, he was obnoxious and arrogant but we were having a good time and just ignored him!
For the most part, the food was still good, but the service was not!. 2 of the guys ordered the most expensive special on the menu, the 500g Chateaubriand (349 ₪) – the most tender cut of beef, which is only available kosher in Israel and only a handful of restaurants prepare it. As this dish is for two people, it always comes with two plates of vegetables and the steak separately. On this occasion, it arrived on one plate with vegetables, with an empty 2nd plate. My friends were sitting at either end of the table and the waitress expected them to “divide” it all up themselves – not classy. When I informed her that this was NOT how Chateaubriand was served and I myself had been served it correctly at Canela just a few months ago, she told me, that was how it is served – end of story! This is the problem when you are being served by someone who knows nothing about food and has been in the restaurant for less time than her customers! One of the fun things about this dish, is also that it comes with two sauces for you to chose from, combine, alternate -depending on your personal taste (as is written on the menu). When we asked her where the second sauce was, she just looked at us blankly and walked away – not helpful.
But for me, the final straw was that they totally overcooked my Fillet steak (order medium – rare, served medium- well) and when the manager came to check on how our food was, I told him they had made a mistake with my dish, he shrugged and simply walked away and did nothing about it. If a good place makes one mistake but admits to it, I will happily go back. If however, they are not even willing to admit it – that bothers me.
To me, a good meal is not just the food but the whole experience and unfortunately, Canela no longer gives me that experience!
But don’t worry, there are other places to try, so keep reading and more reviews will follow.