A journey from a love affair with processed foods to a love affair with cheese.
Saturday night, we still had the car so we decided it shouldn’t go to waste. It quickly became clear that whatever we ended up doing would be food-related. (We’re a little bit uncreative, but now that I have this new project, can I call it research?) We knew the food-related thing would have to be something we couldn’t easily do without a car. After a quick consultation with Avigail, we decided to go to Gavna, a rustic vegetarian/dairy restaurant located about a 20-minute drive from our Jerusalem neighborhood* outside of Bat Ayin, overloloking Beitar Illit.
The first (and only previous) time I’d been to Gavna was as part of our week of wedding festivities, when we ate lunch there as part of a day-long excursion with out of town guests that also included the nearby Herodion, a Judean Hills winery, and later, a huge dinner. During that outing, we sampled a significant percentage of the menu, and it was all delicious (what I still remember a year later: amazing bread and dips, tuna salad, Greek salad, pizza, quiche). On that day, we were able to fully appreciate the scenic setting and magnificent view. The restaurant is located at the end of a long, winding road to nowhere, set into a hill. As I said, it overlooks Beitar Illit, but you can also see open space and hills for miles around.
The restaurant itself has an amazing, cozy feel, all wooden floors and tables and a wall of windows looking out. When we walked up I strongly smelled a fire, but I forgot to check if there was an actual fireplace and/or wood-burning stove. At night, you can see the city of Beitar Illit all lit up in the valley.
As it turned out, this time none of us were all that hungry. Avigail and AB both ordered the soup of the day, which was root vegetable and lentil. When the waitress told us the soup option, I was all, “That’s two soups, right?” and she said no. I thought this sounded like a weird combination, but it was delicious, like a minestrone but with lentils instead of beans. (My request to try one spoonful became me selfishly eating my husband’s dinner until I started to feel guilty and gave it back.) AB also got the artichoke hearts stuffed with mushrooms and cheese. I didn’t try them, but even with the mushrooms, it sounds nice, no? I got the salmon yakitori, which was salmon skewers with a honey mustard and garlic sauce served over a sushi-flavored salad (cucumbers with attendant flavoring). And the three of us split a bowl of french fries, which were crunchy but not too crunchy.
In the three days since we ate at Gavna, after not thinking or talking about it for a year, two different people have asked me if I’d ever been there. Make of that what you will.
*If you don’t get lost like we did. Once you get to the turn off for Bat Ayin, the signage to the restaurant is very clear, even in the dark. But we were not so good at knowing how to get to said turn off to Bat Ayin.