Catch it while you can – all change at Topolino!

camembert

Snowmaggedon, Winterfada – whatever history remembers it by has actually turned out to be something of a let down for the children in our household – awakening to pretty much no snow this morning caused the eldest to burst into tears, especially when informed that school was up and running. By happy chance, HR in my office decided yesterday already that today we’d be closed for business which left me and my better half home alone – we decided to go on a lunch date – and that is how we will be remembering the storm that wasn’t.

A few weeks back we’d heard the terrible news that Topolino (aka Topoleone) was switching it’s menu from dairy to meat. We had commented at the time that we’d have to take the opportunity of visiting before the changeover and decided to take the chance. My first visit to Topolino, going back several years was without doubt, one of the best meals that I’ve ever eaten anytime, anywhere – and certainly the only meal involving a non-meat restaurant which I’d even think of awarding that distinction to. Since that initial visit, they had initially stopped having kosher certification and latterly has been one of the leaders in alternative certification which, although others may disagree with, I support and am comfortable with.

Although we called to book a table, it was not strictly necessary due to the inclement weather and we had our choice as to where to sit and received exemplary attention throughout. The waitress brought us bread with some wonderful home made aioli. Having confirmed that my better half was pregnant the waitress also brought an additional dip of olive oil and a balsamic vinegar reduction – a very nice (and delicious) touch on her behalf.

The menu was as I remembered – incredibly difficult to choose from due to the large number of delicious sounding dishes on it. Although there are some very light choices, it’s dominated by a variety of pastas and gnocchis with fish or phenomenal creamy, cheesy, artery clogging sauces. We opted to start with a whole baked camembert with garlic confit, honey and a rocket and herb salad. This was a real show stopper – gooey, creamy camembert, sweetened by honey, with the soft, mellow garlic. I can’t imagine it’s all that tough to replicate at home and I’ll definitely be looking for a chance of recreating it. The salad was a perfect accompaniment – peppery leaves, lightly seasoned as a counter to the fattiness of the cheese and with salt flakes adding a further texture.

I opted for Canneloni as my main course – with mascarpone, ricotta and gorgonzola, and a walnut cream sauce. I like a pungent cheese and this was really delicious. My wife had fettucine in a cream sauce with mushrooms and chestnuts – also delicious.

chestnut gnocchi

The dessert menu is part of the advantage of a dairy restaurant and we weren’t going to leave without sampling something – the chestnut gnocchi with cream and amaretto sauce and a sprinkling of pistachio crumbs was delicious – the sauce not overly sweet and the savouriness of the gnocchi made this a delicious ending but in truth all the offerings looked fantastic – I have tried the panacotta previously and remember it fondly and I’m a sucker for a proper tiramisu even if it is so common as to be totally untrendy. Even the coffee was excellent. The bill came with a 20% discount for lunchtime service making the experience even more pleasant.

We questioned the waitress as to when they are changing the menu and why. Whilst the date is not yet set, it appears the this dairy gem will be no more within a month and will start offering a meat menu instead. The reason for the change is still pretty unclear – the waitress told us something about upgrading but as far as I’m concerned Topolino is the best dairy restaurant that I’ve encountered in Jerusalem, does everything very well indeed and always seems to be full when I pass by.

Take the opportunity to pay one last visit whilst you can – make sure to order the baked camembert and I wish the owners good luck in the changeover – I will certainly be checking it out after the relaunch in the hope that it’s as good in it’s new incarnation as it is in the current one.

62 Agrippas street – just down the hill to the entrance of the open shuk.

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