Last night we had dinner at Arcadia for our first night in Jerusalem. The restaurant is down a tiny street and easy to miss. There is a gate and behind it is a large garden and to the right is the restaurant. You have to ring the doorbell for access. We finally figured it out and got in. The restaurant itself feels old just like the rest of Jerusalem. A tiny kitchen, a small place with just a few tables, low light and really good music.
Perhaps it is the restaurant or how things are done in Jerusalem but the length of the meal was ridiculous. There is no doubt that there was a rhythm to how Arcadia was going to work. Not so sure we were quite up for it. Appetizers come out of the kitchen about half an hour after you get there. We shared everything. After that is complete, then we get to order. I told them we were exhausted and hungry but it did not seem to register. Someone recommended that if you say we want to leave here in an hour and a half then they know from the beginning how to pace the meal. Not so sure this would have even worked. Alas. We started with a small serving of spicy lentil soup. I'd love to know what spices they put in there. Delicious.
Our first round out was long soft breads that were absolutely out of this world. Hot warm soft and crusty bread served with a variety of classic Middle Eastern dips.
With the bread came an eggplant carpaccio that was tasty and fresh. All the vegetables come directly from their garden. They do not buy anything at market except for meat and fish. I really like that.
Pan fried kale and ground meat with a dollop of ricotta. This was quite good and different.
Sliced cuttlefish with onions was very fishy tasting. Nobody loved this.
Right before they gave us the menus we were each given a spoonful of chopped seviche. This was just not that interesting. It was bland and garlicky. At this point we got our menus and realized we were supposed to order a first course and then a main now. Set price. Again I told the people serving us that we were exhausted and would just like to order the second course and would that be okay with them. She said that it would take the same amount of time so she would just bring out a bunch of the second courses for us to share. Time wise, this made no difference, which was truly unfortunate.
This particular dish was different. Carpaccio of rump with chopped vegetables on top. The meat tasted like it had been cured.
Sea bass carpaccio with smell red peppercorns was fantastic. Fresh, flavorful and just the right touch of salt and pepper.
Roasted slices of calamari with slices of fennel. A nice combination and roasting both the calamari with the fennel creates a nice flavor.
None of the pastas were particularly good. Gnocchi with a tomato sauce. The gnocchi were light but not that airy.
Ravioli with a strange tasting tomato sauce.
Kale mushroom risotto which was too al dente.
Finally the main courses came. Fred and Josh went for the butchers special of the night which was beef. Different cuts of beef roasted in the oven served with slices of sweet potato and a red wine reduction over the top. All put together at the table. It was really delicious. Each flavor popped and the meat was really good.
Jess has the fish which she enjoyed and I didn't taste.
Em and I split the special chicken. Juicy, flavorful and well presented but in all honesty I was full and exhausted so it was really hard to enjoy.
We had now been there two and a half hours and dessert was nowhere in sight. I told them we were done. Check please and we will pass on dessert. Even that took a while. They couldn't have been nicer about it. The chef was there and he was happy to see us too but dinner was way too long. After all, we are all spending each day and night with each other. We didn't need to have a 3 hour meal. Actually, I am not so sure I need to have a 3 hour meal ever.
Wrap up on Arcadia. Some highs, some lows. Lots of thought goes into preparation. Love the concept of all vegetables they grow on the premises. Interesting herbs that are burning when a dish is presented. Definitely has a Jerusalem old world vibe. I wish we were given the opportunity to order once we got there so that the flow would have been much quicker and made for a better experience. I am going to work on telling the people at our next meal, an hour and a half tops and we will be done.