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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Yerushalmi Café Culture


Bar Stools with Pedals, Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

It’s hot, it’s August. Taking it easy.

A delight of warm weather is popping into places otherwise seen from the window of a vehicle. We are less rushed, the days are longer, serendipity takes over.

So it was recently when I stuck my head into a coffee shop named Agronsky after the owner Sonia Agronsky and fortuitously located on — wait for it — Agron Street. An immigrant from Moscow, Sonia started this place three years ago — its neighbors include the US Consulate for Commercial Affairs, a monastery, a bicycle repair shop, and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Lacking an exterior sign, this odd hidden gem is in plain view. Does it get any better?

In style, this is as low key as its neighbor a few steps east, the Waldorf, is HIGH. Where the Waldorf plays to the pretentious, Agronsky plays to the casual. Where the Waldorf caters to the highest standards of religious pedigrees, Agronsky posts a wall-size cartoon answering any kashrut questions with: we observe tradition. ‘Nuff said.

I don’t usually engage in reporting on food establishments, there are blogs aplenty that do. No, this is about art.

Immediately, I was charmed. The high bar stools have foot rests that are bicycle pedals, in a nod to its  closest neighbor, the repair shop that goes back at least 4 decades.

Clock Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

The wall clock ticks the day away in a mélange of re-purposed objects that are design museum worthy.



Muffin Cakes, Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz

The iced coffee was fine and made by Sonia on the spot. I perused the muffin-type cakes made in-house. But that was the end of my menu exploration. The high-ceilinged coffee shop has a bar for indoor seating and a couple of small tables in and outside.

With a view of Independence Park and the newly-opened franchise coffee shop done in the latest of restaurant fashions, this is an off-the-beaten-track find smack in the middle of the beaten track. Its across-the-street competitor will surely soon be packed, but if I were a visitor to Jerusalem (or the local that I am) I would turn my back on the latest version of fungible establishments on Agron and in the close-by Mamilla Mall and choose instead Agronsky for its unique vibe.

Mural detail by Daniella Schnitzer, Café Agronsky © 2015 by Heddy Abramowitz


The entire left wall of the café is dedicated to the unfolding of a whimsical collage of hand-drawn illustrations by artist Daniella Schnitzer. This work-in-progress is meant to be a mural of Jerusalem, with an eye to the mundane and the miraculous. Her keen observations zero in on many different aspects of daily life in Jerusalem and visitors to the café will enjoy watching it grow.

Coffee, a quiet corner, and a philosophical-humorous art work in progress. A bit like having a front row seat for a mini-Sistine Chapel. Without the neck strain.

Details: sonia.agronsky@gmail.com

Opening hours of Agronsky:
sunday to thursday: 07:30 am - 23:00 pm
friday: 07:30 am untill 1h before Shabbat
saturday: motzei Shabbat

This post was originally published on the Times of Israel:
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/yerushalmi-cafe-culture/