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Jerusalem Life

| Restaurant Review: Chefchaouen - Moroccan-influenced dining

Zev Stub    
Sunday, 22 December 2:41 PM

by Sybil Kaplan

Photographs by Barry A. Kaplan


Hillel 19

Phone 02 544-7070

Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; 

Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 1½ hours before Shabbat begins;

Saturday evening, 1½ hours after Shabbat ends to 11 p.m.

Kashrut –Rabbanut Yerushalayim

In the Rif Mountains of Northwest Morocco sits a town called Chefchaouen (pronounced Shafshawan), founded I n 1471. It is 1½ hours from Tangiers, 3½ hours from Fez and 4-5 hours from Casablanca. 

It is known for the blue-washed buildings of its old town. Some say Jews who escaped to there in 1492 from the Inquisition introduced the blue from the tekhelet, the blue string on the tallit, remembering the sky and heaven and a spiritual life. Another theory is the blue was introduced by the Jews who took refuge there from Hitler in the 1930s.

Chef Kobi Kahlon’s parents came from Morocco. He visited the town and liked it and decided to use the idea in a restaurant, with partner, Or Moshik.

On the night we visited, walking down Hillel, all of the trees were strung with lights which moved up and down like dripping tears.

Half way down is the recently opened Chefchaouen Restaurant in three sections. Outside is a large building with windows on all sides, ivy on the roof and a wood floor; it seats about 50-55—good for private parties and events.

Just outside the restaurant door are 7 tables and chairs.

Walk through the main door and down a few steps and you are attracted to the wall on your left picturing houses, washed in blue, like in Chefchaouen. The work area is to the right and then some bar stools and high tables. A bar and stools are in the back. The floor is tiles. The whole interior seats 26.

The menu in English showed 9 choices in “Just from the kitchen”; 6 in “Goes Well With Beer”; 6 in “Express with Fren”; the back of the menu lists beers, cocktails, wines, whiskey and liquors and soft drinks.

The first thing we tried was Masabacha Lima soup (NIS38), from the “Just from the Kitchen” section of the menu. It contained: lima cream, lima beans, tomatoes, garlic, green chili, shallots, red chili oil, lemon oil, and was garnished with handmade frena bread, made in a local Jerusalem bakery. Frena bread is traditional Moroccan bread, usually baked on baking stones.

The soup was served in a large, metal soup bowl. The different tastes blended well together.  

Given the chilly weather, we accompanied our tastings with hot tea with mint. 

The next tasting, from the “Goes well With Beer” section, was Burek (NIS19). The cigar-shape was stuffed with potato, pumpkin, eggplant, egg, pepper, chuma pepper and lemon paste and was topped by an unusual good and crispy shell.

Next from the same “Goes Well With Beer” section were Asado Meat Sticks (NIS38). Marinated and fried assado was spiced and accompanied by fire-roasted onion, garlic confit, tomato confit, aioli with mustard and aioli with smoked paprika. This was served on a tiny wood board like a palette.

While sitting inside, we noticed the wait staff carrying color soup pots with lids to the outside building. She told us these were smoked veal hamburgers, 200 grams, NIS58.

Finally, we tried the dessert—warm semolina cake with tahini ice cream, both garnished with maple syrup and mint leaves (NIS24), served on a mini wood palette. Both were excellent.

Also on the menu are: vegan shawarma, NIS46; Nebraska steak, 55NIS per 100 grams; souvlaki (grilled veal, lamb and chicken) NIS52; and Sabich, NIS23, among other foods.

The food at this restaurant is exceptionally reasonable in price, offers 11 dishes which can be prepared vegetarian or vegan, has a friendly warm atmosphere with music, and a variety of definitely special, unique tastings. 

The author and the photographer were guests of the restaurant.


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