Sunday, July 17, 2011

Refreshing summer flavors

Disclosure: The writer was a guest of the Sofia restaurant at the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem.

It was a regular Israeli hot and humid summer day. We were early. My best friend (famous food blogger Foodbridge) and I had arrived to the Inbal hotel almost an hour too soon. We looked at the swimming pool longingly and wished we had brought bathing suits. We also felt very sorry for the hotel staff, all dressed formally in suits while we wore our best T-shirt and capris for the day.  We were invited to a blogger event and formal introduction of the new menu of the Sofia restaurant. Because of our early arrival we had a chance to wonder around the hotel prior to the bloggers' event. It turned out to be a gem of a hotel: combining the beautiful view of the old city with all the modern comforts and pampering. 
Chef Moti Buchbut

Then it was time, we were called back to the restaurant and the tastings began. There weren't many of us bloggers at the lavishly arranged table. In addition to Foodbridge and me, there was  Ariella Fixler-Alon from the Hebrew food blog "Cooking to the rhythm of Salsa", Shira Zwebner from Hipstermom blog, two managers from the hotel and a PR agent. Now our T-shirts seemed very inappropriate.
On the spot made brioche bread

We began the meal with brioche bread that was freshly baked and tapenade spread.  The restaurants' chef, Moti Buchbut came and explained every dish as it reached our table. The Red Tuna Carpaccio was served, and we were extremely impressed and not for the last time. The fish was marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, seasoned only in sea salt. It was a perfect starter, fresh, delicate and very tasty.
Tuna carpaccio 

Next we were served onion soup based on red wine that had a rich taste followed by a very unusual green salad. The salad was extremely fresh, the lettuce crisp and juicy but the unique ingredient was the sauce: a combination of olive oil, and Passion fruit puree that contributed a tangy yet rich flavor to what is generally considered a mundane dish.  We had also sampled pasta with tomato sauce (Pasta A La Pomodoro) that was tasty but not thrilling.
Onion soup

Green salad

Spaghetti pomodoro
The "piece de resistance" was next. This is a dish that in my opinion is worth hiring a baby sitter, getting dressed and driving to this restaurant.  The Asian Sea Bass (Barramundi) served on a bed of mushroom risotto and topped with scales made from potatoes. It was ingenious combination of flavors, textures and the beauty of an impressionist painting. 

Barramundi fish on a bed of  mushroom risotto

 In addition we tasted two more fish courses: one of sea bream and the other of trout- both were exceptional in flavor and presentation.
Marinated trout fillet with potato and mushrooms

Sea brim on toasted brioche with yellow bell peppers sauce

We were so stuffed that we couldn't believe we will handle the dessert. But the deep fried chocolate filled ravioli was irresistible.  We licked our fingers literally. 
Not a space ship, chocolate filled raviolli

The whole experience was unforgettable. I personally loved the Chef's tendency towards fresh, lemony, tangy tastes and the combination of extremely fresh ingredients in a beautiful presentation. There is a tendency ( I had it too) to look at Kosher and especially Dairy Kosher restaurants as unsophisticated, a no match to regular chef restaurants. Chef Moti Buchbut and his staff at the Sofia restaurant prove that one can cook Kosher Haute Cuisine, you just need the enthusiasm and creativity.

Sofia restaurant – Kosher (not open on Saturday) at the Inbal Hotel , Liberty Bell Park, 3 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem,  Israel.
Views of the Old City from Inbal Hotel


  1. Wonderful, Yael! Love to see another point of view- and a slightly different menu than what we had the day before. Love the pictures too, especially the one of Chef Moti and also the view of Jerusalem.

  2. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. The food looks and sounds great.

  3. Sounds (and looks!) like a wonderful time. And I'm kicking myself I told the Inbal I couldn't make it...

  4. Thank you all for you comments! It was really a lovely experience.

  5. את רואה - מצאת קריירה

    כתיבה מעולה - נהנתי


  6. Everything looks so delicious! Lucky you to have been invited to such an event.