10 Yoel Solomon, Kikar Ha Musica
Kosher Mehedrin, Rabinute Yerushalayim
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 a.m. to three hours before Shabbat
Cole Porter wrote "C'est magnifique" in 1953 for the musical Can-Can, but the words translated as magnificent, great and wonderful fit the nine-month-old new French dairy restaurant perfectly.
So does its name which means delicacies.
It is hard for Livnatt and Yoel Affriat to believe just a few years ago they were working in Paris as opticians. Yoel became bored and wanted a change, so he went to Lenotre Culinary Institute and took the one-year-course to be a pastry chef. Afterward, they started a catering company.
In May 2013, Laurent Levy, a friend who was a French optician and businessman in Jerusalem, came to Paris, saw the works of their catering company and he told them, he had an idea from one of his projects. He explained Kikar Musica, the only music square in downtown Jerusalem.
In July, Livnatt and Yoel came on aliyah with their children ages 16, 12 and 9. Levy suggested they rent a place from him for a patisserie (a bakery specializing in pastries and sweets baked by a pastry chef) and restaurant.
December 2014, they opened Gourmandises in HaMusica Square. As you approach the large square, there are tables which seat 40. Inside the L-shaped room, there is a table with sweets, a showcase and a wall made of Jerusalem stone. (Someone has said the old building was once a garage for the Nachlat Shiva neighborhood.)
Candelabras are on the ceiling; by the white tables which seat 26, are gold studded faux leather and white chairs. Brass sconces are on the Jerusalem stone wall. Glass Eiffel Tower vases, tied with a ribbon, are on each table and the whole atmosphere is very intimate and homey.
The menu is French, English and Hebrew.
Come for the classic breakfast (NIS 45) or brunch for one or two (NIS 59/108).
Four entrees are named after composers and come with salad and bread (NIS 49-98).
Four salads come with bread (NIS 45-59) with music names.
Three sandwiches and a special cheese plate are named for singers (NIS 45-90).
Two omelets are named for singing groups and come with salads and potatoes (NIS 54).
Two pastas have a choice of five sauces accompaniments (NIS 49-62).
Eight sweets range from NIS25-45).
There are a wide variety of hot and cold drinks.
Our hosts were Livnatt and Yoel who started us sampling the Menuet salad
--lettuce, tomato, avocado, palm heart, hard-boiled egg, mini ears of corn and the specialty of the salad, imitation crab pieces. The nice combination of textures made this a refreshing and excellent tasting salad, subtly dressed with home-made olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard dressing.
Livnatt says they didn't find this fish in Israel and when she spoke with French people and asked them what they missed from Paris, they said this fish, so they put it in the salad. And we love eating the fish also because you do not find this fish in salads in Israel.
For the "specials," which are not on the menu, we were served a whole sea bass accompanied by pureed sweet potato and cooked white potato flavored with parsley and olive oil (NIS109).
Livnatt says she likes sea bass and for those coming in for an evening meal, "we have to have something special." Sometimes they have salmon, sea bream, or tuna.
"Every morning we receive a phone call from our fish dealer in Machaneh Yehudah telling us what he has."
We especially liked the taste of the baked sea bass which is not "fishy."
Under sandwiches, for my mushroom-loving companion, was Aznavour--an open-face croissant with baked cheese topping, stir-fried mushrooms and lettuce (NIS45).
All he could say was--that was magnificent!
It would not be French if we did not try the cheese plate, Gainsbourg, named after a French singer (NIS90). French people eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack--any time. Roquefort, Mozarella, Parmesan, Camembert, and Feta encircled the plate with butter pieces in the center; it was garnished with tomato slices, lettuce and red onion and a wonderful tasting French baguette. (We bought several baguettes to take home!) Usually, goat cheese is also part of the plate.
While Yoel is the master pastry chef, several flights below the restaurant (food comes up in a dumb waiter) is the kitchen domain of 35-year-old French chef, Nissim Touitou, who has been a chef for 20 years. (His father owned a restaurant in Paris.) He came on aliyah three years ago and began working with Livnatt and Yoel when they opened Gourmandises.
We did not try any of the many beautiful, mouth-watering sweets because we wanted to emphasize the French food.
If you are looking for a wonderful eating experience in a relaxied atmosphere with the music of HaMusica drifting in through the doors and a warm, friendly conversation with the owners,Gourmandises is a place to visit more than once.
The author and photographer were guests of the restaurant.