The movie was terrible, so Dad and I decided to console ourselves with a good meal. Café Berta was a perfect choice in all respects: nearby (right in the neighborhood), convenient, with lots of parking in the area, rather enticing, with its kosher dairy menu, and a bit of a mystery, since we hadn’t been there since the ownership changed.
Shiri, one of the three new partners, is the driving force on the floor, despite only having been around two or three months her lively energy has breathed a new and lovely life into the place. We browsed through the newly updated menu, including, in addition to the pastas, salads, sandwiches and soups we knew, fruit shakes, homemade desserts and a range of cakes and cookies that can be ordered to your table or bought to take home. In the morning the café serves a delectable breakfast, in the afternoon, a lunch special, and if you don’t feel like leaving the house, the entire menu is available for delivery in the immediate area. ‘Soon’, Shiri tells us, ‘we’re going to be adding fish to the menu. So, what can I get you in the meantime?’
Freshly squeezed orange juice, and I mean fresh, and two steaming bowls of soup. The ‘orange’ soup was a bit sweet and creamy, right up my alley, and the thick rich mushroom soup, which came in a clay pot, went to Dad. Then, the two salads came with house bread. The first – an adorable fresh mountain of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce leaves and sprouts, kept me nibbling for the rest of the evening.
We continued with the most generous bowl of halumi cheese salad I’d ever met. Atop a bed of fresh vegetables sit many, many cubes of fried halumi cheese, a ton of mushrooms sautéed in soy and honey and a bunch of walnuts and croutons, so we won’t feel, heaven forbid, that we aren’t getting our money’s worth. With the salad we got homemade lasagna, consisting of multiple layers of pasta, eggplant, mushrooms and sweet potato, all of which has been covered in a delightful mushroom cream sauce, and served, how else, with a side green salad. It looked good, it smelled good, it was tasty as hell that even two veterans like me and my Dad, who had eaten a lasagna or ten in our day, were super impressed. If I were in Shiri’s place, I would have taken it personally that such great food was abandoned at the halfway point, but actually, she looked quite satisfied. ‘No problem’, she said. ‘I’ll wrap it up for you. Now, what would you like for dessert?’
For dessert we had a couple cups of cappuccino (it is a café, after all), and the Berta pancake, which comes with pecans, fried banana, raisins, ice cream and whipped cream. A large portion, the dish was tasty, rich and varied. It sent us home thoroughly full and satisfied. And with our doggy bags in hand that would last me at least two meals at home, if not an entire week. How lucky that Café Bertha has a delivery service.
74 Hagalil, Haifa.