Aluma - an upmarket kosher meat restaurant recently opened in Jerusalem
On May 18th 2016, I visited “Aluma”, a recently opened chef restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem. The name “Aluma” (Hebrew: “beam”) was chosen because of the uniquely tranquil lighting emanating from the restaurant’s elegant gold light fittings, only one feature of the restaurant’s splendid interior of soft grey and powder blue designed by Michael Azulay. Another point of interest is a textured grey feature wall. Azulay’s vision was inspired by the meeting of east and west, of classical and modern. Despite its intimate ambience, “Aluma” has seating for 100 people, with another 80 seats for al fresco dining on a balcony overlooking the hotel’s swimming pool and a panoramic view of Jerusalem. The VIP room, adorned with wall paintings, caters to 16 guests. Among the drinks available in the sparkling, well-stocked bar are wines from several top Israeli boutique wineries. “Aluma”, a meat restaurant, carries the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s “Kashrut Mehuderet” certification.
Internationally renowned chef Michael Katz has returned to his hometown to preside over the cooking at “Aluma”, which is already attracting a lot of people. His experience includes working at 2- and 3-star Michelin restaurants in Belgium, teaching at “Le Cordon Bleu” culinary school in London and serving as chef de cuisine in Jerusalem restaurants. For “Aluma”, Chef Michael Katz has put together a menu based on classical European cuisine with some influence of Israeli cooking.
Our meal began with fresh, crusty rolls served with eggplant-, beet- and pesto dips. For the first course, we then enjoyed a variety of salads – a gravlax-style cured trout salad with beets in a subtle horseradish cream; red tuna salad in a soya-ginger and wasabi sauce; beef carpaccio in aromatic oils with fennel and crisp parsley; the ceviche of the day – sea corvina with watermelon, peppers, ginger and herbs; the restaurant’s own cured sardines in oil, garlic and mild harissa and, finally, the most wonderful warm “sabich” (an Israeli filling served in pita bread, of Iraqi tradition) salad with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, chickpeas, tahini, harissa and crispy poached egg. We then tried two of the main courses – juicy, tender grilled entrecote steak flavoured with hollandaise sauce and garlic and served with beans and crispy potatoes, followed by beef filet medallions cooked to perfection in shallot- and red wine sauce. For his desserts, Chef Katz keeps a safe distance from pareve creams and other such unattractive toppings too often associated with the end of a meat meal. His desserts are sure to delight the restaurant’s guests: for example, tapioca-mango cream with forest fruits, caramelized pistachio nuts and mousse apricot; crêpe Madeleine filled with vanilla cream, orange zest and fragrant orange sauce; chocolate-espresso mousse served with cocoa crumble, forest fruit comfiture and chocolate sorbet; and, finally, what for me was the tour-de-force – pears cooked in wine and red raspberry syrup with cream of caramelized almonds.
The restaurant’s service is excellent (our waitress explained each dish to us), seating is comfortable and the ambience is delightful. Prices at “Aluma” are certainly not over the top for such excellent and lovingly prepared food.
ALUMA, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1 HaAliya St., Jerusalem; Tel: 02-643755
Opening times: Sundays to Thursdays 12 noon to the last customer; Fridays 11:00 a.m. to two hours before the Sabbath; Saturdays from one hour after the Sabbath to the last customer