Updated September 2013
Café Neeman is a Jerusalem institution. Many veterans of 40 odd years will remember Café Neeman on King George Street, with the best challot in the city and the best coffee and pistachio ice cream. Later they mover to Jaffa Road and still had the best challot. Today they are a virtual empire in Jerusalem of baked goods and salads. What act could top this to keep pace with the times? The next generation, Ofer Neeman and his managing partner, Itsak Danieli have ventured into a whole new culinary experience with a gourmet kosher meat restaurant, NOYA, named after yet another Neeman generation, daughter Noya.
So, how does one go about creating a gourmet meat restaurant after so many years in dairy? You go out and hire the best chef money can buy, in this case Chef Ganedi, formerly of Ocean fame and Shonka. You then find the best location on the corner of trendy Shlomtzion Hamalka Street and Jaffa Road. You renovate a historic building. And on top of all that, you seek out the highest standard of Kashrut Lemhadrin of Maran Bet Yosef Karo.
This is a lamb lovers feast. If you do not like cooking lamb at home, here is a good place to have someone else do it for you. Not only are there lamp chops, lamb kebabs, lamb risotto and lamb ravioli, there is also leg of lamb, which I was disappointed to discover that it was lamb shoulder.
OCEAN Restaurant was famous for its foccacio with rosemary and sea salt. Chef Ganedi did not disappoint. This did not require much adaptation for kashrut. It came with two eggplant spreads, grilled peppers and black olives, and was hearty enough for a first course.
My partner had a first course of lamb shuwarma, which thankfully was not over spiced, so that we could taste the shredded lamb. I had the chicken livers sautéed in a wine sauce with walnuts and raisins. Chicken livers are tricky - you have to know how to avoid spoiling them in the kashering process. These were tasty and the sauce added some juiciness. Other first courses were house ravioli in a root vegetable consommé, a number of fish dishes and a soup of the day.
The main courses are mainly based on lamb, but we also ordered a mixed grill to taste as much as we could. It consisted of entrecote, chicken liver, chicken breast, a kebab and lamb chop and came with a green salad.. There is an extensive fish menu, considering this is a meat restaurant. Fish entrée include locus, sea bream, corvine (musar), fish burgers and salmon steak.
We liked the extra little touches like the house cocktail, the hot wet clothes (like you get on an airline for washing up) and the complementary house blend tea.
No meal is complete without sweets. Chocolate will always do the trick and luckily for us the best Belgium chocolate, Valrhona is kosher and pareve. We passed up on the obligatory hot chocolate soufflé in favor of the chocolate volcano pie, which was dense and satisfying. It was accompanied by pareve vanilla ice cream, puree of wild berries and ginger jelly.
There is a full service bar and wines ranging from Gamla to Yarden are available at 90 shekels a bottle. Ask the waiter about the wines in the wine cellar, where the Castiel and Yarden Merlot Ortal 2004 are stored (295-365sh). We were disappointed, though, that there was no house wine or wine by the glass.
NOYA is a welcome addition to the growing mehadrin market. Shidduch dates, yeshiva bochurs, family celebrations and all the rest of us will feel welcome here.
Their worthwhile business lunch from 55sh is served till 5PM! What a great way to be introduced to the menu and come back for dinner.
We found limited street parking on a weekday night on Hillel Street and Coresh Street.
First courses: NS 40-50. Mains: lamp chops (190sh), lamb kebabs (85sh), beef/chicken risotto (75sh), Entrecote stuffed with lamb (135sh), mixed grill for two (270sh). Fish entrée range from (110-125sh)