I have to begin by saying that I don't usually eat in kosher restaurants - except with my friend, Riva. As I tell everyone - my house is kosher but my stomach isn't.
This evening Riva and I had dinner at "Hachazer" (formerly "Etzel Pini Bachatzer"). I used to eat at the restaurant when it was in the Feingold Passage and wasn't kosher. And there was always wonderful food that you could seldom - if ever - find at other restaurants. My favorite foods such as sweetbreads and tchol (miltz or spleen). This incarnation also has those delicious morsels - as well as many other offerings for those diners who are not particularly adventurous
The restaurant is not actually right on Derech BetLehem but sort of in the middle between that street and Derech Hebron. We approached it by driving through the parking lot of "Super Deal" - straight ahead - then to the right and into the parking lot of the restaurant. Not a particularly auspicious entrance - but oh! what a surprise when you finally get there. You walk onto a big wooden patio which is not used for anything at the moment and then into the restaurant - where you are given a warm welcome. You feel good immediately and just know that the food and service will be wonderful.
Low intimate lighting - not too dark - just comfortable. Large, dark wood tables set very simply with white plates, cloth napkins, and nice wine glasses.
About the Hachazer Menu
The menus are written in both Hebrew and English - and you are given an extra sheet of paper (only in Hebrew) listing all the specials - almost as many offerings as on the menu itself. The menu is - wisely - rather limited, given the array of specials. Several starters, some soups, pasta, fish and meat dishes. I can't tell you about the desserts as we are not particularly fond of sweets - but judging from the care taken with the rest of the meal they must be delicious, too.
Imagine my joy when I saw sweetbreads prepared two ways and - joy of joys - "butcher's tenderloin" - a cut which is almost impossible to get in Israel...or any place else for that matter. I asked the waitress if it was, in fact, the real thing and she assured me it was - at the very reasonable price of NIS 105 for the order. By the way - there is only one small piece of butcher's tenderloin from each cow - weighing about 300 grams - that's why it's so hard to get.
We had a hard time deciding between the tchol and the sweetbreads to share as a starter. The sweetbreads won - and we ordered them as a ragout prepared with artichoke bottoms. They were beautifully prepared and the plate went back to the kitchen absolutely clean.
As Riva wasn't too sure about the butcher's tenderloin we had one order of that and one entrecote - both prepared very rare. The waitress came back to say that the chef, Motti, was a bit concerned about our ordering the entrecote prepared "nah" - which is very rare indeed. Motti wanted to come out and discuss our order with us - which he did. Have you ever heard of anything like that? Were we impressed with his caring. He explained that entrecote has some fat and he wanted to be sure that the fat wasn't raw. We agreed that he should do as he thought best - but to be sure the meat was rare. It was perfect. As was the butcher's cut - shades of my childhood - my favorite cut of steak in the world.
Since we were sharing - we had both kinds of steak, a simple salad garnished with roasted cherry tomatoes and a slice of sweet potato, mashed potatoes with fried onions and a side of bulgur with lentils and dried blueberries - all placed in the middle of the table to make sharing very easy. The dishwasher had no work from our table this evening - those plates, too, went back absolutely clean. And Riva loved the butcher's cut.
While you are waiting for your meal you are served loaves of hot, fresh bread with little dishes of oilve oil and balsamic vinegar, chimichurri, a tomato dip and olives.
And they offer a lovely GAMLA Cabernet by the glass - a generous glass. They also offer a GAMLA Chardonnay by the glass. We chose the Cabernet to go with our steaks.
Using our eluna discount coupon this all came to a very reasonable NIS 144 per person. Certainly worth every grush. And if I'm not mistaken, our choices were among the more expensive items on the menu.
So to end as I began - this is one kosher restaurant that I shall visit again and again - even without my kosher friends. And I'm going to tell everyone about it in my next blog - that's how special it was.
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