Valero – a fun Jerusalem kosher dining experience

The Jerusalem shuk area may offer predominantly street-food restaurants, but there are a few more formal restaurants which offer fine/fun dining, including Valero. The restaurant on the corner of Agripas and Beit Yaakov opened a few years ago and the owners invited me to try a new menu.

I have been to Valero a few times in the past, including for a friend’s bachelorette party which was great fun. This time we were sat away from the bar in a more intimate part of the restaurant. We started dinner at 8pm when the restaurant was not too busy, with low ambient music. Later in the night, the music was turned up, the restaurant filled and created more of a party atmosphere.

The restaurant is named after the Valero family who owned property all over Jerusalem, including the Machane Yehuda area. At the time the market was sometimes known as the Haim Valero Market.

We began the night with cocktails. I went for the Basil Spicy Gin (NIS 48) which is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, tonic, basil, lime, and hot chili. I often find gin cocktails to be too sweet, but this one was perfectly balanced and when I stirred the cocktail with the fresh red chili it gave off even more heat. My friend chose the Sweet and Sour (NIS 52) made with Finlandia vodka, pineapple juice, lime, Amarena cherries and topped with a cranberry ice-lolly. This cocktail was sweeter and less unusual than mine, but she enjoyed it.

Our first starter was Mini Arais (NIS 56) served with spicy popcorn. The three toasted mini pitot were filled with shredded beef and were similar to the arais dish on the previous menu. The spicy popcorn had an interesting flavor but should have been crispier.

The Mallard (NIS 68) was served on a bed creamed potato with a red wine sauce. The skewer of meat was nicely cooked but I prefer duck fat to be rendered and crispy. Our third starter was my personal favorite. The Market Tartar (NIS 64) was similar to a tabbouleh salad with cubes of raw fish and dates, for a touch of sweetness. The dish was refreshing, flavorful and a very generous portion for a starter.

We opted to share two steak main courses. On the suggestion of our very friendly waitress, we ordered the Sirloin Roast Beef (NIS 124) served on a bed of mash potato with colored carrots, broccoli, seared goose liver and a red wine and shallot sauce. Despite the name of the dish, it was basically a sliced sirloin steak but the combination of flavors and textures worked well.

Our second main course was the highlight of the meal for me. Two large medallions of Veal Fillet (NIS 152) were served on a bed of truffle mash, with a Merlot reduction and bok choy. We didn’t feel that the flavor of the bok choy worked with the rest of the dish, but otherwise, it was an incredibly delicious dish. The fillet was beautifully cooked with a rich flavor, even without the addition of the rich truffle mash and sauce. It was also a very generous portion of 300g of fillet which is less than many places charge for a similar dish.

Unable to choose between the desserts, we were presented with a platter which included a selection of three of the four desserts on the menu (NIS 49 each). The winner for both of us was the Crème Brulee with caramelized banana. I have had this dessert before and still cannot believe it is parev! The Soft Chocolate Cake was rich and gooey and paired well with the strawberry macaroon. The full dessert comes with a salty chocolate crumble which would have added a nice balance to the sweetness of the cake and macaroon. The third dessert, Four Shades of Tahina, seemed to include just two shades which were a tahina semifreddo and shredded tahina, which were a nice nutty addition to the richness of the  chocolate dessert.

Valero seems to predominantly cater to Israeli customers but there are plenty of dishes for all palettes and it is a good option for those looking for a more interesting kosher meat menu in Jerusalem.

Valero, 80 Agripas Street, Jerusalem, 053 611 2106

 

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