What are you doing Thursday night? Fancy a drive north? Galilee Table, a new kosher pop-up restaurant in the Prima Hotel in Tiberias, is open once a week for a unique kosher culinary experience.
NIS 190 per person all-you-can-eat menu includes ample servings of extremely good food and a shot of homemade Arak. It is excellent value for money, but what is really unique is the type of food.
Excellent value but unique and amazing food
For anyone who keeps kosher, finding authentic Arabic food is difficult. The Galilee Table is a chance to taste local Galilean-Arab specialties. Both the chef and the hotel’s general manager are Arab citizens of Israel who live in the Galilee.
The tables are set with small jars of locally grown olives as well as homemade za’atar mixed with sumac, one of the cornerstones of Arabic cuisine. The salads arrive at the table served in attractive ceramic dishes. Take my advice here. There’s a lot more food to come, so while you’re probably hungry after the long drive up to Tiberias, exercise some restraint or you won’t be able to make it through the entire meal.
On our visit, the first salad to appear was humous msabbaha, runnier than most humous served in Jewish restaurants in Israel, and made from whole chickpeas and tehina. I kept tasting it again and again. It was served with pita baked in tabun, but I also advise caution when it comes to the bread.
Then there was humor with meat; tehina with parsley and garlic; a tomato salad with mint; grilled eggplant with tehina; tabuleh with almonds; Galilean potato salad and finally pieces of aubergine in a spicy tomato sauce. While some of these salads may be familiar to Israeli diners at barbecue restaurants, the seasonings used at Galilee Table were just different enough to be interesting.
If the salads taste homemade, that’s because they are. In the kitchen, local women from nearby villages help prepare the food together with the chefs. The next course, called “Our Special Treats”, included kubbeh stuffed with meat, fatayers stuffed with spinach and mini-arais (grilled meat stuffed with bread).
Then things got even more interesting when the main courses started to arrive. First was kubbeh nayeh or raw kubbeh, a layer of cooked meat on top of a layer of raw meat mixed with burghul. It is originally a Lebanese dish and something I have always wanted to try. I liked the taste and texture, but was a little nervous about the raw meat.
Other entrees included vegetarian stuffed vegetables; mejadra made with lentils and burghul, instead of rice as in the Israeli version; siniyeh – minced meat with tehina and tomatoes; chicken msakhen with sumac on a fried pita, another very typical Arabic dish; and chicken makloubeh with pieces of eggplant and potatoes. It is interesting that some of these dishes have made the transition to Israeli cuisine and others have not.
For dessert, there was a semolina cake known as basbousa, which I also know from Egypt, and kataif (small pancakes filled with walnuts, traditionally eaten after the daily fast of Ramadan).
The menu changes with the seasons to incorporate available local vegetables. Tables must be reserved in advance.
Galilee tablePrima Hotel, TiberiasAl-Khadayif 77Phone: (04) 660-8899Kashrut: Rabbanut Tiberias
The author was a guest in the restaurant.