“I hear you have a kosher restaurant” I said to Daniel, one of the owners of the new Jem's in Petach Tikva.
“A brewery” he corrected me.
I suppose it is a little of both, I thought, but I was wrong. It is a lot of both.
Jem's Beer Factory Restaurant
Jem's is located in the Kiryat Matalon high tech park, a short distance from the Geha junction. There is street parking in the evening and a parking lot across the street. There is table seating, seating on couches and more seating at the bar but you best have reservations or you may have to wait a while to occupy those seats. While you wait you can shoot hoops in their courtyard and even get a head start on the beer served on tap from a stationary van in the courtyard. But it is best to have reservations.
What should a brewery/restaurant open to the public look like? Just as you would imagine it.
The décor is cool industrial, with cement floors, spot lighting and Casablanca ceiling fans. The dominant element is the large shiny steel brewery equipment and the well-stocked bar. The background music when we visited was pop light. Just right. I don’t say this often in restaurant reviews, but if you like the décor, you must see the bathroom.
The Menu at Jem's
And now the food:
The menu is simply a list of dishes that you can mix and match as you like. You can have just a nibble of you can construct a full meal by choosing the lighter foods as a starter and then main courses. The menu offers fresh fish, steak, veggie dishes, home made sausages, and side dishes like chips and beer-batter fried onion rings. The side dishes can be ordered separately as a nash with the beer. Choose a single order of chips, for example, and you will be served a huge bowl with enough chips to satisfy half the restaurant. These are served, as they should be, with a container of Heinz ketchup.
There is a tasting menu but it has nothing to do with food. It includes several glasses of beer ranging from light golden beer to dark stout, all produced on site.
Ah the beer!
Jem's beer is an all-natural healthy product with just 5% alcohol. Not a hobbiest product, Jem's produces a very professional beer. Partner Jeremy (Jem) actually studied beer production in his native US at the Siebel Institute of Technology and micro-biology at the University of Southern California.
Jems beer is made of all fresh ingredients: malt (barley), purified and treated water, yeast and hops. The beer is not filtered and not pasteurized (the German method of production). It is on tap, through a direct line from the production equipment. The owners hope to eventually bottle it and sell it at other outlets but currently the beer is only available at Jem's.
We visited Jem's early one weekday night. A group holding a late afternoon business meeting were just getting up and as we dined the room filled with couples and small groups. A very charming waiter guided us through the menu. We started our meal with crispy and tasty vegetable tempura (cooked in beer batter, and you know which one). This great dish makes an excellent starter or a nosh with the beer. My companion went on with a platter of Sinta (Serloin) steak served with onion rings. I had the salmon in honey and mustard sauce, served with green beans. The fish was so good I asked for the recipe and I have been preparing salmon this way at home since. The only thing I cannot replicate is the delicious smoked flavor, achieved at the Jem's smokehouse.
Seems like the beer is not the only thing made in house. The fish is smoked on premises, sausages are made in house, and more…
The folks at Jem's have plans. Look carefully and you will see a raised stage area. This will be for live-music performances to be held in the future. Live music is just the next step in the concept of this informal laid-back experience restaurant.
Some might say that for a brewery Jem's is a great restaurant and for a restaurant it is a great brewery. But I would say that for a restaurant it is a great restaurant, and for a brewery, it is a great brewery. We loved the concept, the atmosphere, the beer and the food, in whatever order you choose.
Jem's is the hottest thing to hit the Tel Aviv area in a long time and if you haven’t been there yet, you’ll want to visit as soon as you can.
Getting There: Click to enlarge the map.