By Debbie Kendall-JP- @ New York Jewish Guide.com A Jerusalem favorite sports a more upscale style.
The large restaurant holds 170 diners, including outside seating. The décor combines the rustic authenticity of the old train station building with the appropriate glamor of a restaurant of this caliber. Despite the size and high ceilings, my companion and I noted that the acoustics were very good. As the evening progressed, the lights dimmed and the crowd got younger and trendier, but you can still have an intimate conversation with your dining companions.
The endive and rocket leaves salad with seasonal fruit and blue cheese (NIS 48) was a surprising delight, as I do not normally like those ingredients, but they worked really well. The cherry tomato salad (NIS 46), however, was a disappointment. It was beautifully presented and the colors were sensational, but the dressing lacked any punch.
Sometimes you try a dish that has you thinking about it for days afterwards, and judging by the popularity of the dish in question on surrounding tables, I don’t think I was alone in this feeling. Gnocchi with chestnuts and porcini mushrooms (NIS 68): the name does not do it justice. I could have been sitting in a villa in Tuscany as the perfectly made and cooked gnocchi melted in my mouth. I love the two main ingredients in any dish, but together and with a creamy sauce that was not too heavy, it was the perfect combination. Meanwhile, my companion enjoyed the beef fillet medallions (NIS 118) with bone marrow, pears and ginger in a red wine sauce. The beef was cooked as requested, and the sauce was a good complement, but it still did not beat the gnocchi. She also tried the seafood platter (NIS 118) with black risotto and curry sauce, which was very filling but slightly too heavy.
Again, the fish was very fresh, but she found the rich Cajun flavors quite overpowering.
Lastly, we tried the pasta with zucchini (NIS 62), served with sun- dried tomatoes, pine nuts and olive oil. The tagliatelle pasta is black (from zinc, not squid) and with the colors of the vegetables, it makes an interesting presentation. I loved the zesty flavor of this dish and it was a very generous portion, but my only critique is that I would have preferred more zucchini to make it a lighter dish.
For dessert, we found it so hard to choose among them that the waitress insisted on bringing most of them to try. My favorite was the seasonal fruit tart (NIS 42), which that night was pear tart made with crisp, buttery pastry and a rich almond crème, served with vanilla ice cream, strawberry coulis and white chocolate truffle – heaven! Luckily, my companion did not fight me for it, as she preferred the chocolate and peanut butter mousse (NIS 42). We both thoroughly enjoyed the other selection of Pavlova (NIS 42), tahini ice cream (NIS 38) and the crème brulee trio (NIS 36).
The First Station, 4 David Remez St., Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 624-6242
Sun – Fri 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat – 1 p.m.-2 a.m.