New 02 Upbeat Jerusalem Cuisine restaurant blends the old and the new
Nestled among historic sites and ancient markets, a high-end travel industry in Jerusalem is rising to the forefront of luxurious lodgings and gastronomic excellence, led by the recently renovated Inbal Hotel located on Jabotinsky Street in the city’s Talbiyeh neighborhood.
Tucked away in the completely overhauled hotel, the hotel’s restaurant, named 02 Upbeat Jerusalem Cuisine (02 is a nod to Jerusalem’s telephone dialing code), fuses the ancient flavors and history of Jerusalem with the modern food influences currently sweeping the holy city and its markets.
The hotel, owned by Jack Sasson, is itself a further reflection of a tradition that blends the old with the new, and with impressive results. The NIS 90 million renovation ($25 million USD) that added two new floors to the top of the old hotel brought accolades from Israel’s Tourism Ministry, which awarded the hotel a rare five-star rating. TripAdvisor awarded the hotel its Travelers’ Choice Certificate of Excellence.
The addition of a new wing of 51 luxury suites and sleeping rooms is accompanied by modern amenities and services on par with other elite world hotels. A modern fitness center and sports facility with a heated outdoor pool and a comprehensive spa offering a range of treatments allows for a retreat from the bustling city. Full concierge services, complimentary WiFi, airport pickup, 24-hour room service, babysitting, and mobile phone rental are available. Venue spaces are equipped for meetings and conferences; with an 800-person capacity in the Zion ballroom, the Inbal is an attractive option for business ventures and events.
“We felt now was the time that we needed to go big,” said Rony Timsit, Inbal’s general manager.
Renowned architect Michal Schwartz and acclaimed interior designer Michael Azoulay spearheaded the project, which features redesigned suites with contemporary splendor and views of Liberty Bell Park and the Old City of Jerusalem. Additional renovations include walk-in closets, private access elevators, and separate wet and dry bathrooms. Parquet floors, wooden ceilings, mashrabiya window grills, Jerusalem stone, and Ethiopian artwork add to the hotel’s elegant remodel.
The nine-month renovation also used green building methods and incorporated other upgrades such as earthquake resistance, increased insulation, and an additional generator.
The Presidential Suite measures 1,184 square feet and comprises three rooms built around the “stunning views from the terrace, where our guests can experience the charm, elegance, grandeur of Jerusalem,” said Timsit.
The Inbal hosts other gourmet food options, but the newly opened 02 boasts a visionary kosher meat-focused menu by acclaimed chefs Moshe Gamlieli and Itamar Navon of the Mona Group. Fusing local ingredients found in Jerusalem markets and contemporary international flavors with choice cuts of meat and complementary side samplings, 02 emerges as a restaurant for those who love meat, although vegetarian options are also available along with a delectable dessert menu. The dishes featuring ingredients with bright pops of color are artfully arranged against a backdrop of vibrant Armenian pottery, evoking the colors of the Jerusalem shuk.
Upon the opening of 02 under chief chef Nir Elkayam in December 2018 in the original wing of the Inbal overlooking Yemin Moshe, David Brinn, The Jerusalem Post restaurant critic, called 02 “a new eating experience on par with the city’s best” and described the atmosphere as a “dimly lit, elegantly designed restaurant with subtle urban soul and jazz playing in the background.”
Available to hotel guests and to the public, 02 is looking to appeal to both Jerusalemites and international tourists. At the grand opening, Timsit said, “We look forward to welcoming back our loyal clientele and greeting new faces and inviting them to come and experience Jerusalem in a unique and pampering environment.”
By Linda Jennings
Linda Jennings is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.