Is it Possible Upside-Down? Reviewing Four Hot Cafes of Israel

Initial Thoughts: I was rather excited to see the brand-new Roladin cafe while searching for a place to grab a sandwich and/or salad for lunch. Not for any special reason, however, other than my desire to not only eat Kosher, but eat at places that have a certification from the Rabbis.

What I Bought: A small green salad that came with dressing. The dressing destroyed the simple salad that consisted of cherry tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. I also picked up a salmon sandwich, choosing it over the Bulgarian cheese sandwich only because that one contained mushrooms (icky). It is utterly fishy and lacking on any real taste besides the salmon. Maybe with the right seasonings it could have worked. To finish it off I bought a Kinley Soda Water.

Final Thoughts: Perhaps I should’ve bought a cake or some sort of pastries. This bakery should stick just to that and avoid anything else, besides coffee (which I didn’t try yet). The service was rather efficient, although nothing particularly spectacular. The atmosphere inside is nice, but the food was a major let-down.

Arcaffe – ארקפה

Initial Thoughts: I’ve always been rather intimidated when considering going into any Arcaffe. It gives off an “upper-class gal”s dress down spot,’ which really means it’s stuck up and you expect to see a gold-digger housewife (who does no housework) sitting with her girlfriends sipping bottles of Voss water and picking at a frisee salad. I didn’t allow myself to go in until I knew I was looking 100% and had my new, shiny credit card on me.

What I Bought: A mozzarella/pesto/basil/tomato sandwich (carbs!), which was rather good because they toasted it. I had to grab their small cup of chocolate mousse (more carbs!) that I saw sitting in the case with the sandwiches. It was alright, rather rich. I was going to buy mineral water, but I saw the free filtered water tank and decided to go with that, instead.

Final Thoughts: It is a nice place for a business lunch, blind date (I did meet one up there), and yes, even for some stuck-up gals to get together and drink iced tea. The set-up is a nonchalant sort of luxury, and you feel odd if you go in just to take something to go, so sit! Expect the servers to be stuck-up, though, and the only real help you’ll find is with the busboys (who are usually foreigners). The sandwiches and coffee are good, but I’d stay away from the sweets and their salads.

Aroma – ארומה

Initial Thoughts: Cool, a coffee shop. Thought of it as the main and one of the only Israeli coffee shops when I first came here. They’re spread out all over and seem to be acceptable for all income levels to be seen at.

What I Bought: I usually pick up the chicken salad (comes in 3 sizes) with 1000 Island lite dressing. It’s good, nothing amazing, but very edible and a good default choice if I’m not in a risky mood. In the winter, I loved the warm roast beef sandwich and tomato soup, but never get the bean soup (it really looks disgusting and is bland). The iced coffee my friend likes from here, but I find it lacking enough flavor and don’t like that it’s sitting in one of those little machines (I’m a former Starbucks type of gal).

Final Thoughts: The food is good, but not gourmet. I usually prefer to take away what I order, but sitting down is also doable. The servers/cashiers at most Aromas can be rude, so it’s important to be firm with them when ordering and ask to make sure they gave you all of your dressings and plastic ware. I don’t recommend buying coffee from here, however, just lunch.

Coffee Bean

Initial Thoughts: Awesome, American style coffee! (This is when I still thought American coffee was good…) Well, screw the hot coffee, I’m going for the Ice Blend because Starbucks made me an addict of Frappy-type drinks. Added benefit? They for sure have to speak English, since the owners are Americans from Los Angeles.

What I Bought: I’ve had nearly every flavor of the Ice Blend they have to offer here in Israel. Most are pretty good, what you like will depend solely upon your preferences, but you usually can’t go wrong if you like fresh blended drinks. The food isn’t so bad, though I don’t prefer their salads, since there’s always those terrible dried tomatoes. Mini sandwiches are a perfect choice with a drink. Get desserts (overpriced) only if you’re going to split them with someone else, they are extremely rich (this is from the owner of the ultimate sweet tooth).

Final Thoughts: If you go here, you will be tossed into one of two categories: American, or a wannabe American. Neither are good in my opinion, but I don’t really care because I get my favorite drinks (most iced drinks in Israel taste terrible and are sitting in those rotating machines for the entire day, sometimes for days at a time, even). The sandwiches are a good bet, and the service is usually up to basic American standards.


Battle in the Ancient Old City of Jerusalem to Take Place Sunday

Sunday, April 25th, 2010, may see a planned march of right-wing extremists from Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Land of Israel) through the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. This neighborhood has historical significance, as it holds the ancient City of David (the original “old city” of Jerusalem) and is located just south of the Old City walls and the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa.

The march will be met by counter-protest from left-wing extremist groups. Residents, business owners, and others frequenting Silwan for non-political purposes do not want to see any of the inevitable conflict derived from the planned exercise of freedom of speech from the right-wing protesters. The only limitation the Israeli government has and will ever place upon the freedom of speech allowed in any true democracy is when it has the potential of inciting violence, as this event certainly will fall under this provision.

This is one of the few times I will inject my opinion into a post here. As someone who was formerly involved with both extreme left-wing and right-wing groups, as someone who is deeply familiar with the City and People of Jerusalem on both sides, I join in the request of Hassan Siam and David Be’eri – Mayor Barakat, please stop this ridiculous ‘march on Silwan’ being organized by Itamar Ben-Gvir. It will only incite violence between the extremists on either side, harm people in the middle, disturb the peace, and look very bad on all Jewish Israelis, the Municipality of Jerusalem, and even the Israeli Government.

Beit Yonatan: Apt building in Silwan sealed off to its evicted Jewish Residents

Ben-Gvir says the march is a protest against the illegal building projects being conducted by Muslim and Christian Arabs that associate themselves with the Palestinian Authority. While it is true that the building being carried out (for years now) is being done without the approval of the City planning committee nor any permits, a protest will only fan the flames of the radical leftist movement. The basis of protest should not be that they are against non-Jewish Arabs building illegally, but the mere fact that these residents and businesses are likely not meeting safety codes and could be extremely unsafe for the occupants.

The Jerusalem government has not yet taken a strong stance against the buildings going up throughout the eastern and northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem without permits, by any entity. For the safety of the Citizens of Jerusalem and Israel (we shall discuss the types of citizenship in the region in a later post), city officials must be active in ensuring that all proper codes are met.