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When the Israeli Prime Minister hosts U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, only the best will do. Without hesitation, Erez Mergi and Marcus Gershkowitz, the chef- owners of Angelica, were called upon for this event. Who else could display the finest of contemporary Israeli and local cuisine. Together, Erez, Marcus and Ahituv bring decades of experience at some of Israel’s top restaurants, to the table.
The new Angelica restaurant is 100 meters off King David Street, in the upscale King David Crown Residence complex. The new location is central but discreet, modern but comfortable and inviting.
This is not a walk-in sort of place. Reservations required, sometimes weeks in advance, but well worth the wait.
As you may remember Angelica started out on Shatz Street in the Montifiore Hotel. The name Angelica was inspired by the name of the secret love child during Boris Shatz’s first marriage. Though no longer on Shatz, and far from the Bezalel art school, the restaurant retained the name, taking their excellent reputation with them to their new location. Their loyal following from all over the country have come with them.
The menu is short but precise, and is a fitting showcase for Erez and Marcus' talents. I, personally, find it so exciting to see Israeli food constantly evolving, forever renewing itself. Call it Zionism, if you like. The rebirth of a nation with the melding of all the flavors of East and West, European and Oriental, rooted in the present time and on this land, yet still cognizant of its origins – the creation of a new cuisine.
We started with drinks. We tried a local beer with a hint of citrus fragrance. Not your Guinness pint, and I dare say, not a beer for serious beer drinkers. The wine list, however, is for connoisseur. While we passed on the Magnum bottle of Yatir Forest 2003 for 4500sh, if you are game, it is available. We also passed on the 1200sh Hamearah wine. Lest you think there are only expensive wines, there are also wines by the glass, more in our budget, from fine wineries like Flam and Emek Haelah.
We always enjoy the pre-meal breads and dips presented at so many Israeli restaurants. Angelica's house bread was crisp, dark, and crunchy and had enough body to soak up the spreads including the de rigueur eggplant spread, aioli, and olive tapenade and a subtle tehina.
The appetizers were all inviting, and indeed, one could make a meal out of them. We shared kaplachiofiled (! sic) eggplant, with tomato sauce and garlic confit. Eggplant, this Middle Eastern genie of a vegetable can be dressed up or down. Here it was an intense, but subtle accompaniment to homemade pasta. The orange zest gave it that special zing. We also shared a grilled salad with cherry tomatoes, Portobelo mushrooms, bok choy, crispy egg ravioli and truffle vinaigrette. We were in awe of this salad (When is the last time you were in awe of a salad?) The egg ravioli was crisp yet soft and filled with the ubiquitous eggplant, but with a smoky taste and aroma. The veggies just “sang” . It’s been awhile since I enjoyed a salad so much. On our next visit we will try the fish-filled dumpling which sounds just delicious prepared in cream of coconut soup, wild mushrooms and herbs.
The amazing appetizers were just the “teasers” for what this pair of chefs is capable of turning out in their open, but glass enclosed kitchen. There are 16 main course of which 5 are fish or vegetarian. We sampled slow roasted lamb shoulder lasagna, with eggplant and roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and lamb broth. As befits a restaurant of this standard, the pasta was homemade and used only as a wrapping for the lamb, which was gently minced or rather chipped. It must have been a spring lamb, as the taste was sublime and did not overwhelm the dish.
Our dining partner had the whole fish of the day, sea bream served with pesto and olive tapenade. It was cooked perfectly and served with an ethereal creamy potato puree. I had the sinful combo of seared goose breast, swish chard, and citrus, smoked duck breast with duck sauce. We savored every bite as we tried to distinguish between the duck and the goose, as we have never been confronted with them on the same plate. Again, the sauce had a hint of citrus, not heavy, but prefect and precise for this dish. All our entrées were served on different shaped dishes and the plating was a work of art. Not only can they cook, but also have an eye for the esthetic! Already planning our next visit to Angelica we were attracted by the Salmon Sous Vide and for the vegetarians, chestnut squash filled with black lentil ragout, date honey and herbs.
The restaurant desserts are prepared every morning by a dedicated baker. We shared a lemon tart with Italian meringue . The tart itself had a “buttery” crust and the filling had enough of a tang to clear our palates. We had our chocolate fix, with an intense chocolate brownie hazelnut crunch with chocolate mousse. This was lacquered in an oh-so smooth chocolate ganache. Both desserts were garnished with wild berry coulis. No dessert menu would be complete without a warm chocolate soufflé served with vanilla ice cream and wild berry coulis
Angelica is another reason to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and for Yerushalmim to stay put! An amazing transformation is happening in our times and it’s humbling to be a part of this culinary history.
You too, can eat like a PM or VP at affordable prices, but make sure to book ahead. I’m sure Joe Biden did!
The restaurant has a private room for up to 20 guests that is available at all times.
This remarkable dining experience does not come cheap. Expect to pay at least NIS 150 per person.
Appetizers (42-64sh), kaplachiofiled (42sh), Grilled salad (48sh), fish dumpling (56sh). Roasted lamb shoulder (92sh), Seared goose breast with duck (114sh). salmon (102sh) veggie main course (76sh). Lemon tart dessert (42sh). Chocolate brownie crunch (52sh). warm chocolate souffle (42sh).