Jerusalem Cafes: Round 4

Israel…land of milk and honey, land once thought to be the physical center of the world, now “only” the spiritual and emotional center of the world.

Also, land of cafe culture and a quite-possibly-perfected leisurely breakfast….

So, it’s time for another ‘Jerusalem Cafes’ post!

The last few weeks involved two visits to The Grand Cafe. Grand Cafe is practically next door to my apartment AND delicious, so it’s proved to be a great go-to place for any meal of the day. I went for lunch with Noah and we ordered eggplant lasagna, open-faced mozzarella toast, and a cappuccino:

IMG_5129 IMG_5130 IMG_5128

My next visit was with friends for breakfast so, of course, we ordered the signature Grand Cafe breakfast. This included the Israeli breakfast standards of eggs, bread, a hot drink, cold drink, and salad. While many Israeli breakfast come with fixed sides including some combination of cheese, spreads, tuna, avocado, and other vegetables, the Grand Cafe breakfast lets you select your own sides from a lengthy list. Around the table, we ended up with jam, tapenades, eggplant (with and without yogurt), roasted zucchini, gouda cheese, and yogurt with granola:

IMG_5335 IMG_5332  IMG_5334 IMG_5337 IMG_5338

The waitress we had at Grand Cafe was super sweet and brought us coffee mousse with a chocolate ‘espresso’ bean after the meal!

IMG_5340

Grand Cafe is definitely a favorite. Everything on their menu looks great, and everything from their coffees to salads are really tasty. Also, their dessert case looks amazing. 🙂

The next cafe we visited was Cafe Hillel. Cafe Hillel is an Israeli cafe/coffee shop chain – somewhat similar to Aroma – but slightly fancier. Noah and I met there for lunch during the week and had a nice meal. Many restaurants around Jerusalem offer a ‘business lunch’ which includes a lot of extras with an entree order if you go for lunch during the work week. I ordered eggplant/goat cheese ravioli with pesto cream sauce and it came as a business lunch with bread, salad, and juice (I chose carrot juice). Noah shared my business lunch extras with me and also ordered a caprese pizza (although there didn’t seem to be any basil) and a fruit shake:

IMG_5356 IMG_5357 IMG_5359

I really liked Cafe Hillel and there were a lot of salads and drinks that looked appetizing – I definitely hope to go back and try another dish!

Lastly, we went to Tomas Masaryk for dinner. Tomas is on Emek Refaim and has a fairly brief menu: salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and a few fish dishes and starters.

IMG_5351

I liked the atmosphere of this restaurant, and we had a seat where we could see a little bit into the kitchen and saw the chefs working their magic with the pizza oven. For our meal, we ordered a pizza with spinach, tomatoes, stracciatella, and olives, a salad with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and feta, and focaccia with eggplant, pesto, and mozzarella.

IMG_5352 IMG_5353

The food was good, but I don’t think Tomas is a new favorite. If I’m eating on Emek, I’m still partial to Caffit!

Other Jerusalem Cafe posts:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3

Advertisements

Jerusalem Cafes: Round 3

Continuing my series of posts about Jerusalem cafes (see here and here), Noah and I went to a couple more places in the recent weeks.

For dinner, we went to Focaccia Bar Hamoshava – a meat restaurant on Emek Refaim.

IMG_4952

As the name implies, Focaccia’s specialty menu item is focaccia. The menu offers a range of uniquely Israeli focaccia varieties (such as eggplant/egg/tahini), as well as pastas, meat entrees, and a small collection of salads and sandwiches. The restaurant was very nice with an extremely friendly waiter! To start, Noah and I shared the basic focaccia with spreads (it came with egg salad, tapenade, eggplant, sun-dried tomato paste, and something vaguely resembling non-spicy salsa).

IMG_4954

Look at their beautiful ceramic plates:

IMG_4953

The focaccia reminded me more of a flat bread than the thick focaccia I am used to in the US…I liked this version a lot better!

For our main dishes we ordered salmon fettuccine and eggplant mousaka (fried eggplant with ground beef and lamb) to share. Everything was delicious, but it was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish everything!

IMG_4955

After the meal, our very friendly waiter treated us to coffees (I ordered decaf, Noah got Turkish coffee). I would definitely go back here again!

The other new place we tried in the past couple weeks was Caffit. In fact, we went there twice! The first time was after a slightly disastrous morning buying Rav Kavs (Israeli bus passes). Noah and I had intended to get bus passes and then treat ourselves to an Israeli breakfast.

Rav Kavs are only available at the Jerusalem central bus station and a smaller station called Davidka (which we believed to be closed on Fridays). So, we headed out to the Central bus station in the morning. The Central Station is ENORMOUS! In fact, it is practically an indoor shopping mall combined with a transportation hub:

IMG_4928 IMG_4929 IMG_4930

After getting our bearings, it was a little bit of a treasure hunt to find where we were supposed to buy the Rav Kavs – we were directed from one window to another until we finally ended up in a back room of the station devoted specifically to the production of new Rav Kavs. We had to take a number and wait about 20 minutes until it was our turn. Once inside, it went pretty quickly, but by the time we were done and leaving it was already past 11:00am. We started to take the bus home but got stuck in a big traffic back-up that eventually led us to get out and walk.

Originally, we planned to go to the Scottish Guest House for breakfast. The Scottish Guest House is located near the intersection of King David and Emek Refaim and is a beautiful bed and breakfast up on a hill, overlooking Jerusalem’s old city. I stayed there my first time in Jerusalem about five years ago, and I still remember the great breakfast spread they serve each morning! According to their website, breakfast is available to the public from 11-3 on Friday and Saturday. Since it was Friday, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to go! Unfortunately, their website appears not to have been updated in a while because when we finally arrived we were informed that they actually stop serving breakfast at 9:30….NOOO! At least we got some pretty views out of the detour:

IMG_4933 IMG_4932

By this point, we had been thwarted by Rav Kavs, public transport, and the Scottish Guest House, so when we finally reached Caffit on Emek Refaim and learned they were no longer serving breakfast, we were too tired/hungry to be all that disappointed. Despite the day’s mishaps, we enjoyed a delicious lunch (I ordered the signature oreganato salad with fried zucchini and Noah ordered a pizza):

IMG_4937 IMG_4936

We also ordered a fresh squeezed apple juice and iced chocolate milk:

IMG_4935

Caffit is a Jersualem favorite amongst both restaurant reviewers and locals and our lunch was great, so we were eager to return again for breakfast.

When we came back for breakfast, we made sure to get there when it was still breakfast time! Noah and I both ordered variations of the standard Israeli breakfast: bread, eggs, spreads, tuna, cheese, hot drink, cold drink.

IMG_4983 IMG_4984 IMG_4985 IMG_4986 IMG_4987

So much food deliciousness. This was amazing. If you find yourself in Jerusalem, go here soon. 🙂

The Lowry and Lemon Kale Salad

This past week, I went for lunch at The Lowry. The Lowry opened in 2011 and has been a hot uptown spot ever since. It has great food for all three meals of the day, and by night it turns into an upscale bar that attracts those who want something a little more sophisticated than what’s found at the neighboring Liquor Lyle’s.

IMG_3304IMG_3302

The Lowry has a fairly extensive menu of great looking breakfasts, appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, so it was a challenge to decide what I wanted.

IMG_3303

I settled on the grilled cheese sandwich because it is served with a shooter of tomato soup. And, really, that is just too adorable to pass up. My friend ordered a breakfast dish that came with eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and turkey sausage:

IMG_3305IMG_3306

In addition to a great meal out, I also had some good food from my own kitchen last week. I had some leftover kale that I needed to use up, so I came up with a salad using a lot of extra ingredients from around the kitchen.

First, I chopped steamed a half bunch up kale until it just wilted:

IMG_3309

After removing the kale from the steamer, I added three shredded carrots, 1/4 cup cooked couscous, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup dried currants:

IMG_3310 IMG_3311

Finally, I squeezed the juice of one lemon into the mix and served with baked thyme chicken breast and sweet potato slivers:

IMG_3312

The chicken also was simple and fast to make. I topped the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and some chopped fresh thyme and cooked at 450º for 15 minutes. Cooking the chicken at a high heat for a shorter period of time makes it so much juicier (I’m so glad I learned that trick at Kitchen in the Market with Noah last summer!).

Beef and Mushroom Taco Salad

I have two food goals currently.

1. Cook smaller recipe sizes. Even though I’m only cooking for myself, I’ve been making full recipes. The result is I will end up eating the same thing all week. I want to get more variety, so I’m trying to make less food at one time. This will force me to cook more during the week. While time consuming, I really enjoy cooking and think that will be a positive thing.

2. Have more variety in the foods I buy. Although I make a variety of recipes, I typically stick with the same set of staple foods and just make them in different ways. Yogurt, apples, bananas, chicken, spinach. Eating a wider array of foods will – I’m hoping – be both fun and nutritious since I will getting a greater range of vitamins and nutrients.

As a result of these goals, my grocery shopping trip to the farmer’s market and co-op included these food I don’t normally buy: ground beef, chicken sausage, cantaloupe, peaches, rainbow chard. I also tried to round out purchases with foods that I get sometimes but aren’t regulars. For this, I got: mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, and turkey sandwich meat.

From this spread, a taco salad was born. *full recipe below

First, cook 1 onion in some coconut oil spray:

IMG_1580

Add 1/2 pound ground beef:

IMG_1581

As the meat starts to cook, add a heaping 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, paprika, and stir to combine:

IMG_1583 IMG_1582

Add mushrooms:

IMG_1584

Once cooked through, serve atop greens:

IMG_1585

And add the fixings:

IMG_1586

I added cheese, avocado, salsa, and black bean chips.

This dinner was delicious! Since the recipe I made was for two portions, I get to look forward to the next serving tomorrow. Some chocolate and coconut milk finished off the meal perfectly. 🙂

IMG_1587

serves 2
Ingredients
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- generous 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- generous 1/2 cup mushrooms
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Method
Heat a skillet with non-stick coconut oil spray. Add onions and saute.
As the onions starts to become translucent, add beef.
As beef begins to brown, add crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, and paprika.
Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until meat is done and veggies are tender.
Serve as a salad or tacos!

Bryant Lake Bowl: an Uptown classic

If you have ever lived in or visited the Uptown Minneapolis area, you have probably heard of Bryant Lake Bowl.

photo 4(55)

Located right in the heart of Uptown at Lake and Bryant, it’s the sort of place you go to when you can’t make up your mind. Why? Because it offers a little of everything. It’s a bar with daily happy hours during the week and a live DJ spinning on Tuesday nights. It’s also a restaurant serving three meals a day, offering a mix of creative and standard fare (all delicious). It’s also a theater showing everything from comedy to movies to stage performances to drag shows. And, last but not least, it is also a bowling alley:

photo 5(50)

Not wanting my family to visit and miss seeing such a unique gem, I brought them to Bryant Lake Bowl on Saturday night. The restaurant and bowling alley was packed. Luckily, we only had to wait about 15-20 minutes for a table. We put our name on the bowling wait list before we were even seated. Immediately after looking at the menu, we decided to order the homemade tater tots as an appetizer to share:

photo 3(65) photo 2(66)

They were large and in charge and DELICIOUS. I’ve never had something quite like it (except maybe a regular tater tot…), but they were big, crunchy, soft and super hot on the inside, and seemed to have some additional spices (and maybe some sweet potato?) even though I can’t identify exactly what they were. Bottom line: get these now.

I ordered another appetizer for my meal. Mock duck spring rolls:

photo 4(56)

These were another winner. They came with a ginger tahini sauce, and the rolls themselves were superb – full of veggies and flavor. They were pan-fried, so the exterior had that delicious crunch to it…yeah, you know what I’m referring to. 🙂

My mom ordered a roasted mushroom and squash risotto:

photo 5(51)

My brother ordered a caesar salad which came with grilled tofu on top:

photo 2(67)

And my dad got a burger with mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were weirdly liquidy (see below):

photo 1(69)

Overall, the food was really good but the service was definitely lacking. There were two mistakes to our order: I never received a small house salad I ordered and my brother’s salad came with tofu on top even though he ordered chicken. It didn’t bother us too much because I was full anyway and my brother didn’t mind, but it wasn’t the greatest reflection of customer service.

Unfortunately, when we finished our meal there were still six names ahead of us on the bowling list! Since there are only 8 lanes, we were worried it could be a really long wait so we decided not to stay. Plus, yogurt lab was calling our name again. 🙂 Nonetheless, this is a really fun location that I would recommend going to – especially with friends or a date – if you are in the area. They have a date night on Mondays for $28/couple which includes two entrees (you have to choose from a pre-selected list though), a bottle of wine, and a round of bowling. Definitely a good deal!

Butter Bakery Cafe

I’ve had my eye on Butter Bakery Cafe for quite a while. I actually tried to go there for lunch once before, but I ended up at an abandoned storefront (they had changed locations and I was not aware). Their new location, and the one pictured here, is at 37th and Nicollet. I would describe the interior, briefly, as adorable.

photo 1(65)

As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by a mouth-watering display of various baked goods:

photo 2(63) photo 3(62) photo 4(53)

Some menu items are listed on chalkboards behind the counter, but a more extensive menu is also available on paper for you to look at:

photo 5(48) photo 1(66)

Added bonus…they love the earth:

photo 2(64)

Butter describes their dishes as ‘extraordinarily ordinary,’ meaning they serve comforting old favorite dishes – but they do it extraordinarily well. After finally trying their food for myself (which – by the way – is all made from scratch and sourced from small and local farms/businesses whenever possible), I would say I agree with their description.

I ordered biscuits with mushroom gravy topped with one scrambled egg, plus a side of seasonal veggies. Unfortunately, we went in the mid-afternoon and they were out of their homemade biscuits, but they offered it to me on whole wheat bread. An offer which I accepted. 🙂

photo 3(63) photo 2(65)

My dad and brother got turkey sandwiches:

photo 4(54) photo 5(49)

And my mom got a small chicken salad with a bowl of thai chicken soup:

photo 1(67) photo 3(64)

Everything was fabulous. I will definitely be coming back here and might even go so far to say that I would make it a regular stop for when I go out for a quick and casual meal. My only regrets were 1) they were out of biscuits and 2) I wasn’t hungry for any of their award-winning and drool-inspiring desserts. Next time. 🙂

Shoes Shopping and Mill Valley Kitchen

Shoes are a big problem for me. From running shoes to just regular sneakers, it’s always a struggle for me to find shoes that will 1) fit my orthotics, 2) give me enough support outside of the orthotics, and 3) meet my high standards for comfort. I’ve had several attempted and failed shopping trips to try to find a nicer looking shoe that meets all of my requirements. Currently, whenever I go somewhere that calls for a nicer pair of shoes I either wear my Ugg boots, suffer miserably wearing uncomfortable shoes, or give up altogether and just wear my sneakers. On the recommendation of someone at my office, I decided to check out Schuler Shoes in St. Louis Park.

photo 1(63)

I was told that Schuler’s had a wide selection comfort shoes and staff members who would help you find what you were looking for. The selection of shoes available was pretty impressive. They had an impressive selection of pretty much every comfort brand I’ve heard of.

Keen and Choco:
photo 4(51)

Dansko:
photo 3(60)

Naot (an Israeli brand!):

photo 1(64)

I tried on a couple Naots and a pair of Danskos. The Naot shoes were a little too narrow for my orthotics to fit quite right. The Danskos were a little wider and felt pretty comfortable. My heel did seem to come out a little when I walked, but the salesperson told me that is standard with Danskos since they have the hard rocker sole. The Dansko model were called Arden Black Nappa:

photo 5(46)

I’m wearing them today, and so far things are going pretty well. I started the day without socks, but that was a little uncomfortable and I felt like they were rubbing. Once I put socks on, I’ve been feeling a lot better. The only issue now is might need some non-white socks.

For lunch yesterday, we went to Mill Valley Kitchen. It’s in St. Louis Park, and they boast healthy and well-proportioned meals. I’ve wanted to try it for a while, and – given that it’s my own personal restaurant week – this was the perfect opportunity.

photo 4(47) photo 5(42)

The inside was very classy! I was expecting a cafe of sorts, but it was a lot more formal.

photo 2(61)

From their bathrooms, I could also tell they are into the environment and all that good stuff. Telltale sign: REAL TOWELS!

photo 1(62)

My dad and I both got salads for lunch. I got a butter leaf salad with asparagus, new potatoes, and skirt steak:

photo 3(59)

My dad got a house salad with chicken, and we shared some house made pita bread:

photo 5(45)

The lunch didn’t quite fill me up (there was very little meat on the salad). If I went back, I would definitely order something else, but I’m not desperate to return soon. I wasn’t too impressed and would go back to a lot of other places before I go back here.