Barood Bar Restaurant is an institution, just like any other official institution. Barood, which functions both as a restaurant and as a bar, based on what its customers desire, was founded 17 years ago when Daniela Lerer, a former TV personage, decided that she needs a place where she could have fun. "Until then there weren’t any places which combined entertainment and a restaurant”, she explains. "There were Chinese, Oriental or French gourmet restaurants and very few bars in which one could have a hamburger, but there weren’t any places where you could find an intimate atmosphere, quiet and relaxed music, live performances and good food, all in the same place.” And there are those who continue to fantasize about what they want and those who get up and do something about it.
Delicacies that end with the letter "s”
Daniela Lerer, who comes from a family of a Sephardic origin that has lived in Jerusalem for countless generations, has established her special "hall of food” inside a Jerusalemite stone structure within the Feingold Courtyard complex which is teeming with restaurants and bars. As opposed to the other kinds of restaurants which she has found there at the time of her opening of the Barood Bar Restaurant, Lerer made a brave decision in opening here a place which offered a home style cooking (that of her mother’s home in which she grew up). It was not the rice-bean-meat patty combination as was the case in the workers restaurants of the area, but the Ladino cuisine that she grew up with, which includes such dishes as boyikos, pastelikos, huevos haminados (hard boiled brown eggs), moussaka, leek patties and other delicacies with Balkan names which roll on the tongue. These and many others are served next to modern dishes such as a thick steak, delicious pork osso buco, spare ribs and shepherd's pie, a dish which no traditional bar in London will ever neglect to include in its menu. Or, in other words, despite its location, you will not find at Barood Bar Restaurant any glatt kosher food.
Daniela Lerer makes no apologies. After so many restaurants and cafés around her had to make themselves kosher in recent years in order to increase the number of their patrons, Lerer is happy with her platform which does not let her down.
"Among the diners that visit the Barood Bar Restaurant you can find all kinds of people, apart from the religious community. Tourists and foreign diplomats, as well as foreign and local journalists and overseas business people come here, but also many Israelis and local non-religious Jerusalemites who return to dine here again and again, because of the food and the atmosphere alike.”
Distilling vodka in various fruit flavors
And it seems that the Barood Bar Restaurant is indeed blessed with this holy city’s special atmosphere, which can be felt while listening to the live performances which take place here regularly. Jazz performances and good wine attract young people and one can also enjoy chanson evenings here, or Greek music that is played on authentic musical instruments such as the bouzouki and the lyre. While listening to the diners call "yasoo”, you can enjoy the small dishes which were prepared especially for this occasion and are aimed at satisfying your stomach just in the right amount and which mix excellently with the best ouzo that the Greek Islands have to offer.
Lerer is proud of the variety of drinks that Barood Bar Restaurant has to offer and boasts of a few unique collections which she has worked hard on obtaining along the years, such as the vodkas in various fruit flavors that are produced here. "There are guava and mandarine, strawberry and many other flavors. We are the only ones who make them and quite a few people come here from far away to taste them.” There is also a large range of schnapps from Eastern European countries here in Daniela Lerer’s rich bar selection, and these are not the sweet flavored liquors that everyone knows. This is alcohol that includes the real distilled fruits. As a woman of principles, Lerer refuses to purchase wines that are produced in wineries which are located in the territories and she usually prefers to get those that are of a Mediterranean style.
One can also say much about the beers that are being served at the Barood Bar Restaurant, especially about the Guinness, which according to Lerer, gets her a special praise from Coca-Cola’s chief technician who comes here every once in a while to do maintenance work on the taps and pipes. It is the combination of a container that is situated very close to the tap and beer that does not have to travel long, very frequent cleaning of the pipes and the proper way of pouring the beer.
A feeling of home
Barood Bar Restaurant’s special flavors and scents are joined by the place’s inviting visual appearance. On its walls hang many painting by the painter Yohanan Lakicevic whom Lerer has met in her previous work, who even published a book that is named "Barood” and which includes illustrated stories about the local way of life. Here and there are displayed items from a varied Jerusalemite past, as well as collections of bottle openers and bank notes that loyal costumers make sure to add to when they come back from their trips in different places around the world. And perhaps one of the things that make the Barood Bar Restaurant that much extra special and pleasant is the feeling that no matter what or how much you order here, and even if it is only a small glass of cool beer with which you will be sitting down for three hours, no one will be looking at you strangely and quite the opposite. As this is exactly what the owner of this place was aiming at – a restaurant that is a bar that is a home.