Today, I was in Old Jaffa, Israel after stopping at the amazing Shoplifters: Aesthetic Chaos fashion & design shopping space, and passed by a little garden patio with tables and chairs, framed by vines and greenery. I said, “look how cute!” as I looked in on the people sipping coffee and talking. My boyfriend immediately put the car in reverse and we parked behind what we later discovered is Nelly Kitchen.
Not found on any coffee shop blogs or websites that I have read for go-to Israeli coffee shops, walking into this tiny restaurant felt secretive and special. The decor is minimalist and the space is small; the courtyard/patio is actually bigger than the interior seating space. Delicious smells from the kitchen wafted out to the street. This was the place. I had a great feeling. One of those feelings that I immediately recognized: I didn’t even need to eat or drink to know this would be a time cupsoul.
We started by sitting outside on the patio. The chairs and tables are classic patio style, with wiring and wood. One extremely large umbrella shades the entire patio, and true to Tel Aviv style, big fluffy cats mosey around, relaxing and gracing patrons with their regal presence. We were immediately greeted with friendly service and a re-purposed wine bottle filled with fresh water. The menu looked delicious — I had a few dishes that I wanted to try, including the omelette; they were still servingbreakfast into the lunch hour, but after hearing about the soup of the day, I settled on something warm to match the colder autumn weather: lentil soup. My boyfriend ordered the muesli.
While waiting the short time for our dishes, we enjoyed the patio. Couples and friends filled the outdoor tables, talking about life, laughing, eating traditional Israeli dishes like shakshouka, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. The patio was not overcrowded. This is definitely a space that I could write, read or study. People talked in more quiet tones and the plants added an extra peaceful ambiance. This cafe is a place that Woody Allen could film a scene for his next art film, certainly.
Once the soup and the muesli arrived, I was immediately won over by the food presentation. The soup came in a beautiful white bowl, coupled with whole grain bread and tahini and lentil dips. The muesli filled a pretty teal glass with the fruits sprinkled on the top and a tiny white dish of honey. I had a sip of the lentil soup and fell in love. What the menu said about Nelly Kitchen, that the food was fresh and organic, became evident at once when I tasted the flavor of the lentil soup. I tore a small piece of the hot bread roll and dipped it into the soup. Everything was superb. The combination of savory food and the lovely patio inspired me.
Rain drops eluding the large umbrella and dropping onto our table brought us inside for the post-meal coffee. Nelly Kitchen serves organic coffee. Again, the presentation was simplistic and clean: the latte did not have latte art, but no matter. The taste and flavor notes of the coffee were both perfection. Quality coffee beans and quality brewing. Smooth to the finish. A wonderful cup of coffee and a wonderful experience overall.
Was this a cupsoul?
Would I put Nelly Kitchen’s business card in the time cupsoul?
No question. I am eager to return. In fact, I almost want to go back this evening to try the pasta of the day with mushroom sauce. Not only is the coffee wonderful at Nelly Kitchen, but the food is impeccable. You will not regret trying this restaurant in Old Jaffa.
*Since this article was written, Nelly Kitchen has relocated to another location but her food remains equally as delicious. The terrace is now home to Finjan Kitchen and Cafe, a good spot to enjoy a kafeh afouch.