Brunch in the Holy City – Take 2

It has been over a year since I wrote my last post on Brunch in the Holy City (here is the first one) so it is definitely time for an update.  My original post still stands true for most of the places.  I have given up on going to Café Inbal because although I love the food, it did not warrant the terrible service but if you have never been, it is still worth a visit.  I have become even more of a fan of Kadosh Café because their food really is delicious and it is a great local option.  But here are some new places for a great brunch in and around the Holy City:

Grand Cafe

This place definitely deserves top ranking as my favorite new place for brunch in the Holy City.  Built in the ground floor of a new apartment building on Derech Bet Lechem, the design and layout has been careful planned to allow for plenty of room for both small and large tables and a spacious outside seating area.  Although the design of the cafe has a strong French influence, there is also a touch of New York style.

The owners of the cafe are Adi Talmor, a restaurant entrepreneur whose ventures include Sushi Rehavia and Colony  and Chef Marcos Gershkovitz, who owns restaurant Angelica and co-owns Malka Rotisserie with Talmor. Similar to their other ventures, the service here is above average, they certainly know how to hire and train their staff.

The menu (read in full here) is extensive, with a variety of all day breakfast options, salads, sandwiches, pasta, quiches and fish specials.  My brunch of choice is Eggs Benedict served on toasted English muffins with spinach and hollandaise sauce and a mixed green salad (48₪) with an option of extra smoked salmon (12₪).  Other enticing brunch options include Roshti potatoes served with fried eggs, sour cream and arugula (44₪) and Warm Croissant with melted Camembert and fresh tomato(30₪).

If you are feeling extravagant, treat yourself to one of the delicious pastries made on the premises by the pastry chef.  I can recommend the deliciously authentic French macaroons!

Whether it is the food, the style or the service that attracts them, there is definitely a predominance of non-Israeli clientele, although the more discerning Israeli locals seem to have been converted!

My only criticism is the inflexibility of the breakfast meals and every small change is extra– you cannot have an iced coffee instead of the juice and hot drink included with the breakfast meal, fresh carrot or apple is extra and does a small shot of soy milk really cost 4 shekels!  To me the mark of an exceptional restaurant is going above and beyond the expectations of the customers.  In Benedict (in Tel Aviv & Herzliya) my ice coffee with soy milk or carrot juice is included in the breakfast, no questions asked!

Derech Hagefen

Hidden inside scenic Moshav Beit Zait, 15-20 minutes outside of Jerusalem, Derech Hagefen is the sister restaurant to my firm favorite Café ItamarThe setting is slightly less authentic than Itamar but no less beautiful.  Here the garden center seems to have been designed around the cafe, rather than the other way around and the fish ponds add to the tranquility of the surroundings.

The menu is similar to Café Itamar but it includes some more adventurous breakfast options like Eggs Benedict (56₪) and French Toast (38₪).  Unfortunately breakfast is only served until 12pm even on a Friday so if you want a real breakfast, get there early.  The brunch menu also includes a selection of sandwiches, quiches and salads.  There is also an extensive lunch and dinner menu that includes pasta, pizza and various fish options.

They are always busy so make sure to book and if you are going during the summer, be sure to request a table in the shade.

Cafe Mizrachi

Opened by Eli Mizrachi over ten years ago, this cafe nestled in the middle of the covered part of Machne Yehuda has a very family run feel to it.  Although they do not take reservations, they have a very efficient registration system and if you have a bit of patience, it is well worth the wait.  I love getting a table in the “outside” of the restaurant, where you can enjoy a delicious meal, while watching the hustle and bustle of the shuk.

I do not remember the exact names of the dishes I have tried there and the menu is always changing but the dishes that stand out were Rice Noodles in a coconut curry sauce and a delicious Root Vegetable Salad with a tahina lemon dressing.  Other specialties include Poached Eggs on a base of melted cheese and toasted croissant and various home-made pasta dishes.  All the food is as fresh as the shuk around it.  Be sure to try some of their cookies and pastries, made by the expert hands of Moran, Eli’s daughter who is a Cordon-Bleu trained pastry chef.

Kosher since it opened, Cafe Mizrachi recently lost it’s kashrut license for refusing to only use Katif Lettuce and I believe, like others in a similar position, they have decided to continue to serve kosher food without a kashrut license.

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