Two Meals, 30 Years Apart in Jerusalem

Life and Love Marked in Holy City Restaurant

Unchanging View: Decades after her honeymoon, Jane Eisner returned to this restaurant for a special dinner.
Courtesy of Touro Restaurant
Unchanging View: Decades after her honeymoon, Jane Eisner returned to this restaurant for a special dinner.

By Jane Eisner

Published July 24, 2013, issue of July 26, 2013.
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The fancy restaurant where Mark and I had that memorable, if uncomfortable, meal shut down in 2000 and lay dormant until June 16 of this year, when it was reborn as the Touro Restaurant, part of the new Jerusalem Press Club.

The brainchild of Uri Dromi, who first thought of the idea back when he was a spokesman for the Rabin and Peres governments, the JPC is designed to provide journalists with a comfortable place to meet, work, drink and eat in a not-so subtle attempt to woo the foreign press from its usual hangout at the American Colony Hotel, in East Jerusalem.

The renovation is lovely, the rooms filled with old typewriters, sepia-colored photographs and other journalistic memorabilia. But Dromi is clearly most proud of the restaurant — kosher, meat and open to the public.

He recruited Itzik Ankonina, who owns 13 other restaurants in Israel, to run the operation, and convinced him to name it after Judah Touro, the Newport, R.I., businessman and philanthropist whose name is on the oldest synagogue in America and who gave Sir Moses Montefiore the money to build Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish settlement outside the Old City.

By happy coincidence, Mark and I arrived in Jerusalem the week the press club opened, and after Dromi (a Forward contributing editor) gave me a tour, we knew we had to dine there.

A few days later we sat by the window, with its breathtaking view of the Old City bathed in evening light, and feasted on Chef Benny Ashkenazi’s inventive cuisine. Mark loved the hreimeh — mullet fish in a Moroccan sauce, with pepper, hummus, pumpkin and coriander. I adored the siniya — ground lamb with fried potatoes, pickled lemon, grilled tomatoes and parsley, topped with a delectable drizzle of tehina.

This time, we each had a glass of wine. This time, we started with a delicious endive salad accentuated with peanuts and almonds, and a plate of surprisingly light leek-and-potato fritters, made with mustard aioli and fresh spices.

This time, we felt as if we belonged. We had, you will notice, two appetizers.

Jane Eisner is the editor in chief of the Forward. Contact her at eisner@forward.com and follow her on twitter @jane_eisner


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