Published On: Wed, Apr 6th, 2016

The art of eating

Review: Modern, located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, serves traditional Jerusalem cuisine in a contemporary setting; it is popular among Foreign Ministry officials and MKs.

Modern,   located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,   serves traditional Jerusalem cuisine

 

Museum fare is often more akin to cafeteria food than fine dining. The restaurant Modern, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, is, therefore, exceptional. The spacious eatery with the expansive view of the valley of the Monastery of the Cross is popular with Foreign Ministry employees who host diplomats there, as it is a kosher restaurant with a good reputation that is convenient to government offices. MKs seeking a change from the Knesset cafeteria also frequently pop in from down the street.

Modern prides itself on preparing dishes from Jerusalem’s Sephardic Jewish heritage kept alive for generations in the neighborhoods of Nahla’ot and Mahaneh Yehudah. Even the house wines trace their roots back to the Old City of Jerusalem, where the venerable Teperberg Winery was founded in 1870. In particular, the house red, a Cabernet-Merlot blend, is worthy of mention.

 

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The choice of appetizer at Modern is a no-brainer: The Jerusalem tapas platter for two is a huge tray loaded with small plates of many familiar dishes, and a few variations on some old favorites. The seven small plates were accompanied by a round loaf of warm frenah bread – like a puffy pita with an interesting crust that has miniature peaks, valleys and craters.

The tapas include a creamy humus drenched in olive oil, as good as you would get at many a humusiya; fleshy eggplant with tehina, studded

with crunchy pine nuts; thick wedges of roasted beet that were startling in their sweetness; a unique tabouleh in which tiny lentils take the place of the bourghul wheat; and lemony vine leaves stuffed with rice.

There was also a very good tomato and red onion salad with garlic and hot pepper (although it was not very spicy), and hot green falafel – oval balls that were fried perfectly, on a bed of white tehina.

 

Modern,   located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,   serves traditional Jerusalem cuisine

 

There is a soup of the day, on our afternoon pea soup, a thick broth that was quite nicely seasoned.

 

Another hearty dish is one of Modern’s specialties: Sofrito, a Sephardic beef stew reminiscent of cholent, served here in an individual-sized copper pan. This savory local goulash, redolent with Jerusalem artichoke, root vegetables and chestnuts and spiked with sweet potato fries, is real Jewish comfort food, and ideal on a Jerusalem winter day.

 

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The most intriguing-sounding dish on the menu is the Jackson chicken and nuts kadaif; unfortunately, after we ordered it, the waitress returned from the kitchen to inform us that it is no longer available, and not likely to be restored to the menu.

 

In its stead, therefore, we ordered the pullet in Dijon mustard sauce – only to discover that it comes with no sauce at all, let alone anything tasting remotely of mustard. There was no mistake in the order, since the side dish – couscous with coriander – was correct. In any event, the pullet was moist and flavorful, and complemented nicely by the tiny beads of yellow grain amid green leaves of fresh coriander.

 

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The apricot kebab is something I have never encountered anywhere else, so we could not resist trying it. We were delighted to see the generous portion of five large round balls of beef kebab, on a bed of the lentil tabouleh familiar to us from the mezze. The disappointment came when there was no detectable trace of apricot. Still, the kebab was very tasty.

 

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Finally, the Modern Jerusalem mixed grill is the restaurant’s take on a shuk (market) favorite: The combination of entrecote, pullet and spleen is a cut above the kind of meat commonly used in meurav Yerushalmi, while the spices are identical. Any fan of this delicacy will enjoy this version as well.

 

Modern,   located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,   serves traditional Jerusalem cuisine 5

 

The desserts continue the same theme of Jerusalem traditions with an upgrade. We were especially impressed by the semolina cake, beginning with the beautiful presentation: a scoop of pearly coconut sorbet decorated with chocolate hoops sits atop the round cake containing caramelized nuts and halva and swimming in a lake of sweet date honey. A delicious finale to a memorable meal.

 

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Modern, which serves its attractively priced business lunch until 5pm, is a good option to keep in mind not only in conjunction with a visit to the museum, since it offers just about the most convenient free parking in the city.

 

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Modern 

Kosher.

The Israel Museum, 11 Derekh Ruppin, Jerusalem

Tel. (02) 648-0862

 

Via Ynet News

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