An interesting bar and restaurant near the Jerusalem shuk with a kosher fun dining experience.
The Jerusalem shuk area offers predominantly street-food restaurants, but there are a few more formal restaurants that offer a kosher fun dining experience, including Valero. The restaurant, on the corner of Agripas and Beit Yaakov, opened a few years ago and I was invited by the owners to try a new menu.
I have been to Valero a few times in the past, including for the bachelorette party of a friend, which was great fun. This time we sat away from the bar in a more intimate part of the restaurant. We started dinner at 8 pm when the restaurant was not too busy, with low ambient music. Later in the night, they turned up the music and people filled the restaurant. This all helped to create a fun dining experience and 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.
Creative Cocktail Menu
We began the night with cocktails. I went for the Basil Spicy Gin (NIS 48) which was made with Bombay Sapphire gin, tonic, basil, lime, and hot chili. I often find gin cocktails to be too sweet. 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. These cocktails were a great start to our kosher fun dining experience!
Fun Dining Starters
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) came on a bed creamed potato with a red wine sauce. The skewer of meat was nicely cooked but I prefer when duck fat is 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.
Carnivorous Main Courses
We opted to share two steak main courses. Our very friendly waitress suggested that we should order the Sirloin Roast Beef (NIS 124) and Veal Fillet (NIS 152). They served the Sirloin 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 sat 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, they presented us with a platter that 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 it paired well with the strawberry macaroon. This dessert normally comes with 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. Both of 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 and a kosher fun dining experience in Jerusalem.
Valero, 80 Agripas Street, Jerusalem, 053 611 2106