Jerusalem's Best Hotels Cook up a Storm for Rosh Hashanah

Jerusalem's Best Hotels Cook up a Storm for Rosh Hashanah

autor iconBy Sybil Kaplan

Every year, thousands of visitors stay in Jerusalem hotels during the High Holiday season. While many, no doubt, eat their meals at the homes of family and friends, plenty look forward to enjoying holiday meals at their hotels, where the chefs have planned and prepared their menus with precision and vision.

So what are Jerusalem hotel chefs cooking up for Rosh Hashanah (Sunday, September 13-15, 2015)? We caught up with some of the biggest names in the city to get a taste of what’s to come.

The King David Hotel

Two years into his tenure as executive chef of the legendary King David Hotel (after 7 years working as kitchen staff), Chef David Biton considers concocting a menu for the High Holidays one of the year’s greatest challenges.

“We try to combine together modern food and traditional food and to keep traditions so the customers feel at home and feel the holiday,” says Chef Biton. “On the other side, it’s the King David, so we plan something to let them feel different.”

For starters, the restaurant will offer wild sea bass and drum fish salad with apples;  horseradish will be on the side. The traditional soup will be oxtail consommé, but this year Chef Biton plans also to add an apple and butternut squash soup. “It will be the smell of Rosh Hashanah,” says the chef.

For the main course, patrons can choose from beef filet, prime rib, stuffed spring chicken and fresh sea fish. The dessert menu has not been set yet, but Biton is planning to have one based on fruit and another on chocolate.

On Rosh Hashanah day, Monday lunch will also be in the spirit of the holiday with food symbolic of the holiday. “We will try to do a little bit of sweets, something with apples and pumpkins,” says Biton.

If you’re not staying at the King David, but you find the food sounds too tempting to pass up, fear not. You can make a reservation for Rosh Hashanah dinner or lunch the next day by calling the front desk a few days ahead of time.

The King David will have dinner both nights and lunch both days of Rosh Hashanah. Each meal costs 450 NIS per adult and 360 NIS for children up to the age of 12.

Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem

One street over from the King David is the proverbial new kid on the block of Jerusalem’s luxury hotel scene, the much ballyhooed Waldorf Astoria, where Executive Chef Itzik Barak Mizrachi is not shy about expectations for this year.

“Everyone knows we are the best,” he says. “We have a reputation.”

Mizrachi is still in the process of finalizing the menu, but clued us in on a few things to expect: sashimi fish and chicken liver pate as part of the entrees; three starters, three salads and three main dishes -- only the freshest meat and fish.

“We are using apples and honey in very creative ways,” he adds. “We will use the concept of the shape of apples and the honey, symbols of Rosh Hashanah, and the table will be like a feast.”

On Monday, there will be some special additions to breakfast as well as a decadent and rich buffet lunch.

The Waldorf is welcoming diners who aren’t staying at the hotel, but according to Mizrachi, the dining room is filling up quickly and those who have not made their reservations already may not have a place.

David’s Citadel

Back on King David Street, David Citadel Hotel Executive Chef Avi Turgeman is preparing to host 600 diners on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The Terrace  Restaurant overlooking the Old City walls will seat about 200; the room adjacent to the Terrace will be set for another 100, and the area downstairs by the pool will seat about 300.

The concept of the erev Rosh Hashanah dinner will be what the Chef calls “restaurant style.”

“Everything will be simple, fresh, homemade and super quality,” says Chef Turgeman. “I have been working almost four months to get organic ingredients, to make everything so there is a recipe for every dish for the staff of 85 cooks to use.”

The starter menu will consist of vegan ceviche with tomato jam and couscous and pomegranate salad, as well as sashimi, the thinly sliced Japanese-style fish. Meanwhile, in true Middle Eastern fashion, there will also be a variety of starters in the middle of the table, including gefilte fish, thus completing the blend of East and West.

For entrées guests will have the choice of lamb osso bucco, chicken breast with diabetic-friendly tangerine sauce or entrecote steak.

In keeping with the symbols of Rosh Hashanah, David’s Citadel will be serving 2 holiday-themed desserts: caramelized apples in honey sauce and two types of ice cream -- apple and cinnamon vanilla; and a candied almond crisp with fresh almonds. For those watching their sugar intake, there will also be sugarless chocolates available.

Two accommodate all the patrons, there will be two seating times -- 7:00 and 9:00 pm.

While guests of the hotel take priority, David’s Citadel will also accommodate reservations from diners who are not staying at the hotel based on availability.

Lunch on Monday will be a decidedly more casual affair with a “Jerusalem grill” theme. The buffet-style luncheon will serve up homemade sausages and hamburgers along with a vast selection of quality salads and grilled vegetables.

David’s  Citadel will be the first hotel to use a new piece of equipment, “the smart table,” for the different stations of the buffet, where everything is regulated by computer.

Dinner at David Citadel will run you $114 per adult and $86.25 per child.

Inbal Hotel

The 5-star Inbal Hotel, another mainstay of Jerusalem’s luxury hotel scene, has spared no expense or effort in arranging a special Rosh Hashanah experience for its guests.

Along with Executive Chef Nir Elkayam’s painstaking menu focusing on authentic Israeli and Jerusalem cuisine, the hotel also had specially designed holiday-themed decorations designed for the banquet room and tables to give guests an extra special holiday feeling.

Moving onto the food, each table will have two shared plates of starters: one with the traditional head of a fish, apples, honey and pomegranate and another with chopped liver, gefilte fish, vegetable salad and poached salmon.

For starters, the menu will offer a choice of fish tartare, spicy Moroccan-style fish and a cooked fish dish, such as ceviche or seared red tuna. And keeping things traditional the soup will be a traditional consomme with kreplach and filled meatballs.

For first course, guests can choose from fish tartare, spicy Moroccan-style fish, and a cooked fish dish such as ceviche or red tuna.

The traditional consume will follow with kreplach and filled meatballs.

The main courses are surely something to look forward to as well, headlined by a tantalizing duck confit along with prime rib or stuffed chicken.

Chef Elkayam remarks that “we are always listening to our guests, so we will give more attention to those who are vegetarian or gluten free and those with children.”

According to Yossi Avi-Izak, Inbal’s director of food and beverage, “children of guests will be served a complimentary dinner between 5 and 6 p.m. so they will not have to wait, although they will still sit with their parents at the later traditional dinner.”

The Inbal will be taking reservations for non-guests based only on availability after they have finalized reservations by hotel guests.