Having spent every evening of the last couple of weeks sat in front of the TV watching the World Cup, I certainly owed the extremely patient Mrs G a little quality time. Always fans of trying new places to eat and not having gone out for a meal for quite a while, we decided to give the new and extremely-promising-looking Emek eatery, "Coolinary" a shot.
Situated next to Cafe Masaryk in a spot which used to be occupied by a hardware store, Coolinary has barely been open for a month. Whilst Caffit and Joy had their usual queues at the door (the latter not really deserved IMHO since the emphasis has switched to quantity of customers rather than quality of food), we were able to secure a table for two in the very funky looking new restaraunt without a wait. High backed leather seats, dark wood tables and fixtures and elegant cutlery decorate the high ceilinged but intimate space, which is completed by a wall-filling wine rack and cute little gallery. Clearly a lot of thought has been put into the surrounds and it's certainly been effective - it wouldn't be out of place in any big city and is consistent with the high standard that has been set by a growing list that includes Joy, Selina, Limonim, Lugar and Gabriel.
The menu is short but extremely imaginative. We opted to go straight for a main course but of the starters the chicken livers stir with strawberries, nana and vanilla vodka was clearly a stand out whilst the attractive selection of salads included one with a funky nut mixture and a very interesting sounding pair of chicken salads. We also passed on the trio of chips - celery root, sweet and regular potato.
Mrs G opted for the Liver trio - chicken, goose and veal livers, served on caramelised sweet potato discs with a forest fruit sauce. I decided against the safe option of Entrecote or Sirloin in an alcoholic marinade in favour of the more intriguing chicken breast stuffed with almonds and walnuts, served with Japanese and wild rice and a forest fruit sauce. A considerable portion of the menu is devoted to a very extensive wine list and although individual glasses were not featured, they obliged with a very acceptable Tavor Merlot when we asked. I ordered a draft La Chouffe - a Belgian beer similar in style to Leffe - the first time I've seen it on tap in Israel.
The portions were superbly presented but small and nothing particularly exceptional in comparison to some of the restaurants that I've mentioned in passing. The desserts; a battered and fried ice cream with caramelized nuts and a chocolate mousse, forest fruit (again), chocolate and nut confection were both excellent but a meat establishment will not be able to build a clientele based around dessert. With so much competition around, the standard has been raised to such an extent that in order to compete, a new kid on the block really needs to be exceptional. The imagination that has been put into the menu is let down by the very ordinary execution and the small portions - I was still hungry when we left.
My overall feeling is that the meal certainly did not represent value for money and that unless there is a marked improvement then Coolinary won't survive to see 2007. It's often the case that new places have teething problems but serving this type of food at these prices (both our main dishes were in the NIS 80 - 95 range) and with Jerusalem enjoying an embarrassment of riches in the meaty eateries department, it's hard to see them getting much repeat traffic unless they act fast.
The verdict - Gabriel is still the one to beat.
Coolinary, 31 Emek Refaim, 02-566-2671
p.s. - I made it home in time to see Brazil thrash Japan!