Ala'Esh is a winner. That simple.
They call this a steakiya, but to call Ala'Esh a steakiya is to call Jimmy Choo just a pair of shoes or Unetaneh Tokef just another prayer. Ala'Esh is not just something, it is something special. The team of Kfir and Gal, Yerushalmim and friends from youth, are the former owners of the popular Pichonka restaurant in Nes Harim. Their good business instincts led them to open Ala'Esh, that could not be more welcome in Modiin.
This is a quality meat restaurant. The big sellers are the shipudim (skewers) but meat choices range from burgers to steaks. The menu also offers grilled fish and several all-vegetable dishes.
The meats are grilled over coals, giving them their unique flavor. The foods are exceptional, but it is not just the foods that make Ala'Esh special. This is a professional restaurant managed by a team with experience and know-how.
The ubiquitous Israeli steakiya. You know the model. A table full of salads, grilled meats, and warm pitot.
What separates Ala'Esh from all the other steakiya restaurants on the block?
Let me count the ways......
The first thing you will notice is the spacious room and the modern pleasant decor. Though the food is cooked in the dining space, there is a fresh and clean feel to this restaurant. The service staff is excellent. What do they feed these guys? Charming. Helpful. Fast. Nice friendly energetic wait staff who deserve the tip.
There is food, food, and plenty of it. There are excellent choices and generous portions and delicious flavors. The secret is in the coals. No, the secret is in the sauces. No, the secret is in the fresh meat. You'll have to decide for yourself.
Look again because you won't believe that they can do it all for these low prices.
What else makes Ala'Esh so special? It's that warm welcoming feeling that you get when they greet you at the door and you enter a big room where the tables are all set like they are expecting you. Before you know it you'll have a menu in both Hebrew and English. I guess they saw us coming.
In the great Israeli steakiya tradition the menu starts with a table full of salads and then your choice of meats. No less than 18 salads were laid out on our table, plus some surprises. A basket full of hot freshly-baked crispy laffa (large round flat bread) came with the salads and was continually replenished. An extra plate of warm humus topped with whole chickpeas came to our already full table and - as if something was missing, a bowl of falafel and breaded eggplant. These are all part of the package.
As one of the salad bowls empties, before you have a chance to ask for a refill, a new bowl appears. What are they, mind readers? The humus spread, one of the best we have tasted, was depleted as soon as it hit our table. Another? No problem. All of the salads are made in house, fresh, each day. They didn't have to say it. You'll know by the taste.
By the way, the salads can be purchased at the restaurant
by weight at ridiculous prices like 5 shekels and 7 shekels for the hummus.
We were just slowing down on the salads, when our main courses appeared. Out came two fresh-from-the-fire shipudim for my favorite dining companion and a burger for our hungry teen-age grandson. He likes his burgers straight - no vegetables or sauces that obscure the flavor of the meat, and this is just what he got. As he likes it, with a healthy portion of chips.
The shipudim of pargit and chicken wings each had a generous portion of meat marinated in a delicious sauce. The meat was soft, tender, and tasty, flavored by the coals.
There are a good number of choices for non-meat eaters in this very meaty restaurant.
There are fish dishes and a selection of all-veggie starters and sides. The Beyond Meat veggie burger is cooked over coals so there is no mingling with meat burgers. With a heads-up in advance the restaurant will prepare vegetarian purists chips in a separate non-meaty chipster. I chose the breaded cauliflower starter as my main course, crispy and delicious. The restaurant is also gluten-sensitive and will suggest gluten free dishes.
The food preparation takes place at the entrance to the restaurant. There's the grill and a wall of logs that keep the fire burining. There is the tabun oven where the bread is baked, and a baker, who prepares the balls of dough for the lafa bread. You can watch the bread-making through the outside window, a sight to behold.
Ala'Esh is located in the Ligad Center, a largely business area out of the main hub of the city Modiin. Kfir and Gal expected their primary business to be the lunch crowd from the offices in the center. After a time, word got out and Ala'Esh became a destination for evening diners. Here it wins again, because it is just far enough for residents of Modiin to get "out" for dinner, without the traffic. Pay parking is covered by the restaurant.
The restaurant is just off 443, the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Ala'Esh is the best eatin' between these two cities. Make it a plan to stop at Ala'Esh on your next trip between cities.
The bottom line: Ala'Esh is a high end restaurant at street-food prices. A never-ending flow of salads and a moderately priced main course will set you back about 100 shekels per person. At these prices you can afford to order extravagantly. Ala'Esh is most definitely a family restaurant.
The restaurant can accommodate private meetings, parties and get-togethers during restaurant hours for up to 40 guests in a separate party room.
From the Menu: