Last week I found myself waiting in line at the Cinematheque in Jerusalem to purchase tickets for the new Asi Dayan movie – Dr. Pomerantz. I know that people have mixed feeling about Asi Dayan and over the past few years, he appeared in the news more than once, and not only for artistic and cinema related reasons. Doesn’t matter if you are a fan or not, one thing is for sure, the guy is a genius and has a good (though somewhat twisted) sense of humor.
Anyways, after exiting the cinema, I too had mixed feelings about the new movie which ended quite abruptly, but I did know that I was pretty hungry. It is true that the culinary options at the Cinematheqe are rather limited, and considering that Lavan is the only restaurant/vendor, they pretty much have a captive audience. Nevertheless, the owners and chef do not take this for granted and do their best to mix up their menu and offer specials that will appeal to both regular customers with season tickets to the Cinematheque as well as to the odd visitor, like me.
A few months ago I attended Lavan’s mushroom festival and on my recent visit I was fortunate enough to attend the month long Hamburger Festival (served through April). Aside from the regular a la carte menu, the chef has concocted a list of special and interesting burgers, including a classic beef burger, a vegetarian burger made from grilled portabella mushrooms, a fish burger, an Indian inspired chicken burger coined Bombay Burger, and the gourmet version – a Tournedos Rossini inspired burger. To those who are not familiar with the dish, the Tournedos Rossini is a classic French steak dish, which as rumor has it was created for the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. The dish comprises a slice of beef fillet, pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a slice of whole foie gras. Some also add a few slices of black truffle. In honor of the occasion, Lavan is also offering a special selection of Israeli boutique beers produced in various styles.
After hearing about the specials, we decided to keep it simple and order three different burgers, one as an entree and two for our main courses. Tempted, we also asked the friendly waiter to add an order of chicken liver pâté, another classic hailing from the French cuisine. The pâté was very tasty, topped with grinded pistachio nuts and served aside a warm buttery brioche and home made fig marmalade. For our second entrée, we ordered the fish burger. Comprising both cod as well as tuna fish, topped with a wasabi-soy sauce, aioli, and seasoned with plenty of fresh herbs, while quite tasty, the patty was a bit on the dry side. We also enjoyed a glass of Pelter’s Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Merlot, Harel from the Clos deGat Winery (not sure about the vintages), both were very enjoyable and complemented the food.
Next to arrive were the piquant Bombay Burger and of course the Rossini burger, which I just had to try. The Bombay Burger was surprisingly good, made from diced de-boned chicken thighs (AKA in Israel as Pargiot), and seasoned with an Indian masala mixture and fresh vegetables. We also added a grilled portabella mushroom to the burger that gave the dish some extra flavor and texture, but the patty itself was moist and flavorful and was just fine on its own. The Rossini burger was a real treat, minced entrecote, smoked goose breast and a generous dose of truffle infused butter served atop a large slice of toasted kasten bread. Served medium just as we ordered, not a dish for those with a faint heart but both my companion and I were in agreement, that if we had to do order all over again, we would definitely go for this one.
With no room left for dessert, we enjoyed a couple of steaming hot espressos and called it a night. Can’t wait to see what the folks at Lavan come up with next time, personally, I would really appreciate a Mexican food festival.