Situated in the heart of Jerusalem on Ha’Maalot St., is a small and intimate kosher bistro and tapas bar. The street is named after the Ma’alot building which was built in 1935 during the British mandate and according to Jerusalemite tradition was one of the first buildings in the city to have an electric lift - a bit of history before we get to the more interesting or hedonistic aspects that this street has to offer.
Ma’alot Bistro and Tapas Bar offers a wide variety of mini tapas style dishes that were adapted (both in flavor and size) to the local palate. Diners can mix & match, tasting their way through the menu and if you want to enjoy the full experience, there is also the option of ordering a special tasting menu, basically putting yourself in the hands of the chefs who gradually send out dishes from the kitchen.
Partners and Co – Chefs Gad ya'ari and Israel Bachar have an impressive track record in leading kitchens both in Israel and abroad, including some of the top restaurants in London and NYC. Today, they have joined forces and from the brief conversations that I have had with them, it seems that they truly complement each-other, each bringing his unique culinary approach and style. The results are also quite tasty.
We decided to sample a variety of mini dishes, starting off with home made salads and bread, and particularly enjoyed a fresh carrot salad with mint and good-tangy flavors. The rest were OK, but was not as exciting as some of the dishes that followed. We then enjoyed two very different and flavorful raw - lightly cured fish dishes. One was a more Peruvian style ceviche with plenty of surprises, and the other was Ma’alot’s version of gravlax, made with fresh Norwegian salmon.
Leek (or prasa, as Jerusalemites call this vegetable) and beef patties were one of, if not my favorite dishes with both the texture and flavors, spot on. When the lamb Kebab was placed on our table, I was a bit skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kebabs, but most places tend to take this dish for granted, and often, it does not offer any interest or uniqueness. Ma’alot’s version, did not fall into that category. It was one of the better Kebabas that I have had in a while – slightly charred on the outside and very juicy within, good mutton flavors and gentle seasoning – everything a Kebab should be.
Desserts were also quite good, although not made in house. I appreciated the fact the Co-Chefs (as they refer to themselves) recognize the limitations and do not try to cut corners, but rather work with the best produce that they can put their hands on and in the case of dessert, outsource and bring in good products. By the way, on Thursday nights it is advised to reserve a seat as there are usually live-intimate Jazz or Blues performances.