Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wanderings in Israel’s Northern Outback – Another Burger Failure!

Meatshos - Qatzrin Industrial Area, Ramat Hagolan

I wanted to take a break from the Tel Aviv bubble and explore further afield. This time with a good friend as the brunette had to work. Spring is one of the nicest seasons to wander around Israel as it is one of the few times when the country is green and in bloom. It is also the only time to ski in the only ski resort in Israel – Mount Hermon.
We decided to hit the road before morning traffic and packed the car with emergency food rations (restaurant quality tends to drop the further you get from Tel Aviv bar a few gems). Israel being a small country and with Tel Aviv in the centre means you are never more than a few hours from anywhere. The journey to Mount Hermon took us by the towns of Nazareth (I recommend), Rosh Pina (also recommend) and Qriyat Shemone (Don’t stop).

I, like many in this country, are fascinated by snow and on the rare occasions it does fall, whether in the North or even rarer in Jerusalem, the roads get clogged with half the country wanting to experience the phenomenon. The fact that we have a ski resort at all is one of those Middle East idiosyncrasies.

The best part of any trip to Mount Hermon is the drive up the mountain where the landscape turns for sparse, rocky and barren, to one, littered at first with specs of snow, to finally a snowy winter wonderland.

Arriving at the mountain we noticed that it was empty of any guests - the main reason is that for the past few years the climate in Israel has warmed and dried preventing the snows accumulating and allowing conditions for skiing. As such it was a pretty yet depressing feeling seeing this mountain head for potential bankruptcy. That area in particular thrives from the snow business from Zimmers (overpriced hotels with jacuzzis) to restaurants and local communities.

Never the less, we both enjoyed acting like kids in the snow and ultimately helped us build a decent appetite. Luckily the resort is located near the Golan Height’s which is ‘famous’ for its quality meat. As mentioned in previous posts, I don’t believe Israel has good quality meat, yet amazingly I am not ready to give up the search to prove myself wrong! Prior to the trip I researched restaurants in the area and found Meatshos a butcher and restaurant. Reviewers raved about the quality of their meat and delicious hamburgers. As you know I am constantly looking for the great burger in Israel and was hoping that I would finally hit the jackpot.


The restaurant is located near the Golan Heights Winery in the industrial area in Qatzrin. We arrived following a decent wine tour and feeling slightly intoxicated. From experience arriving slightly intoxicated and hungry usually elevates any food I eat so my expectations were high.

We entered the restaurant to discover we were the only people there – I even asked the waitress if the place was open -  it was 2pm. The waitress mentioned that times were very slow in the Golan with very few diners arriving.

The menu included a number of steaks and burgers all of which the waitress promised were excellent – she personally loved eating the burgers here.

I apologise for going slightly off topic but my experience is that outside of major metropolitan areas most restaurants are mediocre. I am not talking about the minority of gems that exist but the majority of bad food. Maybe it is the lack of funds to bring good chefs or experience of what good food should taste like but this is the reality. Israel is no exception as it is even difficult to find a good restaurant in the metropolitan area, outside is even more mediocre.

Back on topic, we both ordered the burger me the medium and my friend well done (maybe he was scared of getting it raw in the middle). As part of the business lunch we also received fresh bread and a selection of meze. Overall the meze was good and included humus (less good), pickled garlic, two types of chilli con carne (tasty), beetroot and some garlic taboule. I have to say that things were looking up as I found this offering to be tasty.

The burger

The wait for the burgers took a bit of time especially as we were the only ones in the restaurant. But eventually they both arrived and with immense anticipation and expectation I took my first bite only to be greeted with a very mediocre flavour and quality.

To be honest it was even worse than Rothschild Kitchen, though here it was not raw in the middle and a bit overcooked. The quality of the meat was just not good and had too much chewy gristle. There was a juiciness but not pleasant, and one which was to repeat itself for the rest of the day. What a disappointment!!! Again I went against my intuition of not eating meat in Israel especially outside of a metropolitan area but driving in the Golan I saw lots of green pasture and was hoping that the cows would taste better.

I think the disappointment was visible on our faces as the waitress didn’t dare ask if the food was fine and we ordered the bill quickly to escape the scene of the crime. To add to the punishment the price for the burger was 58nis which I would gladly pay for a proper burger but left feeling ripped off.

Readers I think that I will give up my quest for a proper burger in Israel, I don’t think I (or my stomach) can live with any further disappointment!

1.5 stars out of 5

The Disgruntled Diner.  

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