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Al Ha'esh, Charcoal-Grilled, Kosher, Israeli Meats and Salads on Boiling Brook Parkway, Randolph Hills Shopping Center in Rockville

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Al Ha'esh, translates to on the fire or on the charcoal.  It is a nice space carved out of Kosher Mart, which I believe is now called Motti's.  The space was known for generations as Katz's.  It has its own separate entrance from the supermarket, and is run as a standalone restaurant, although it looks like the kitchen may be shared with Motti's.  

I have always said that a restaurant cannot survive solely because it is Kosher, it must also have good food.  This space may have figure it out.

I went here for lunch expecting some good grilled meats, Israeli salads, and some good bread.  I did not leave dis-appointed.  We started with an order of falafel, hummus, and babaganoush. They were served with hot pita, which was really really good (has anyone noticed pita quality recently has jumped by a huge margin?).  The falafel was perhaps the  best I have had outside of Israel.  The hummus and and babaganoush were also very very good.  For my main, I had grilled sweetbreads, which we were told was pancreas.  I had never had the opportunity to sample pancreas so I thought I would give it a try.  It was decent, although a small portion.  It came a with a choice of side, which I opted for Israeli Salad.  My friend went full out and got a skewer of chicken, steak (entrecote) and lamb kebab.  Entrees come with unlimited salad and pita.  The salads alone were enough for a meal, there were about 4 dishes of tahina, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, a tomato onion salad, and something else I cannot remember.  All were very fresh and well seasoned.  Prices are decent--at lunch,  single skewer of your choice is $14.00, $18 if you want a second one, all coming with salads and pita.

I should also note that they have a decent well curated beer selection both on draft and in bottles, with prices which will have your head spin a 360, drafts are $4.50 (including Unibroue from Canada, Goose Island, and Smuttynose and bottles are $5.50  (Bear Republic, Founders, Hatachio (from Japan), North Coast, Weyerbacher).

Being a Kosher spot, they are not open on Friday or Saturday night.

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5 minutes ago, Bob Wells said:

Thanks Pras -- great report. Place looks like it's well worth a trip. So I take it you find the felafel superior to Max's?

I went with an Israeli friend who is a Max's regular, and he thought it was as good if not better.  Keep in mind that this is a sit-down/waiter type of establishment.

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19 minutes ago, pras said:

I went with an Israeli friend who is a Max's regular, and he thought it was as good if not better.  Keep in mind that this is a sit-down/waiter type of establishment.

thanks -- I looked at their website and it seems like an attractive space (as opposed to the depressing Max's space). Heading up to Baltimore in a few weeks for a college reunion and was planning on making the small detour to Max's but I might have to make a slightly longer detour to try this place instead.

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We found Al Ha'esh while looking for someplace near Garrett Park that wasn't crazy expensive, was vegetarian friendly and would be fun before a group went out trick or treating for Halloween.

We loved it.  Good service, excellent food and the salad selection delighted the entire party.  Several had the hummus which was wonderfully rich with chunks of chickpeas still in it.  BL-5th grader had the lamb kebob and I did a mix of the lamb shishlik and the chicken livers.  Another diner had the schnitzel.  We left happy and full with a ton of leftovers.  It didn't feel like the drab kosher restaurants of my youth and the other family, who is not Jewish, loved it just as much as we did.

Looking forward to going back and especially delighted to have another option in the North Bethesda, Rockville abyss.  (Also good to have a positive experience to report--we've had a bleak streak for a while!!!)

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I'm a big fan of Al Ha'Esh.  I've been here several times, partly because i have family members who are strictly kosher.  The kebabs are quite good, but my favorite part of dining here is the array of fresh Israeli salads brought to the table, which are refillable. 

 Israeli cuisine is gaining in popularity, and it's great to have a local spot that not only features Israeli food, but is kosher. Max's has become dingy and dirty over time, and so this is a lovely alternative.

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I'm very excited to try this place, which I never knew about prior to seeing this thread. We're having work done in our kitchen in early December and will need to have some meals out (shucks!) -- this place will definitely be on the agenda. My husband loves meat (especially grilled), and I could make a meal of the fresh pita and salads. I suspect I'll have flashbacks to my meal earlier this year at Zahav.

Does it get crazy busy on weeknights?

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49 minutes ago, dracisk said:

Does it get crazy busy on weeknights?

When I went in early summer (on a Thursday), one of the waiters told me that Thursdays and Sundays are their busiest days.  The food is good and it is one of the few kosher restaurants in the area so I expect they are pretty busy during the week.

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On 2/21/2017 at 8:16 AM, pras said:

Al Ha'esh, translates to on the fire or on the charcoal.  It is a nice space carved out of Kosher Mart, which I believe is now called Motti's.  The space was known for generations as Katz's.  It has its own separate entrance from the supermarket, and is run as a standalone restaurant, although it looks like the kitchen may be shared with Motti's.  

I have always said that a restaurant cannot survive solely because it is Kosher, it must also have good food.  This space may have figure it out.

I went here for lunch expecting some good grilled meats, Israeli salads, and some good bread.  I did not leave dis-appointed.  We started with an order of falafel, hummus, and babaganoush. They were served with hot pita, which was really really good (has anyone noticed pita quality recently has jumped by a huge margin?).  The falafel was perhaps the  best I have had outside of Israel.  The hummus and and babaganoush were also very very good.  For my main, I had grilled sweetbreads, which we were told was pancreas.  I had never had the opportunity to sample pancreas so I thought I would give it a try.  It was decent, although a small portion.  It came a with a choice of side, which I opted for Israeli Salad.  My friend went full out and got a skewer of chicken, steak (entrecote) and lamb kebab.  Entrees come with unlimited salad and pita.  The salads alone were enough for a meal, there were about 4 dishes of tahina, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, a tomato onion salad, and something else I cannot remember.  All were very fresh and well seasoned.  Prices are decent--at lunch,  single skewer of your choice is $14.00, $18 if you want a second one, all coming with salads and pita.

I should also note that they have a decent well curated beer selection both on draft and in bottles, with prices which will have your head spin a 360, drafts are $4.50 (including Unibroue from Canada, Goose Island, and Smuttynose and bottles are $5.50  (Bear Republic, Founders, Hatachio (from Japan), North Coast, Weyerbacher).

Being a Kosher spot, they are not open on Friday or Saturday night.

If there's a better Jewish shopping center in the DC area than Randolph Hills, I don't know what it is.

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Maybe I should have ordered some grilled meat. Is that the strength here?

I started with some hummus and then had the falafel entree. The hummus was fine. The pita was dense. My eight little balls of tasty falafel rolled around in a big bowl. The best part of the meal was the side of zucchini which was nicely seasoned and not overcooked. I didn't find any cause for excitement about the salads. 

Looking at the lunch menu, I was struck by some of the prices. $34 for lamb chops?!? $31 for a ribeye?!? I don't get it.

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22 minutes ago, Al Dente said:

Maybe I should have ordered some grilled meat. Is that the strength here?

I started with some hummus and then had the falafel entree. The hummus was fine. The pita was dense. My eight little balls of tasty falafel rolled around in a big bowl. The best part of the meal was the side of zucchini which was nicely seasoned and not overcooked. I didn't find any cause for excitement about the salads. 

Looking at the lunch menu, I was struck by some of the prices. $34 for lamb chops?!? $31 for a ribeye?!? I don't get it.

The cost is probably associated with rent. I've seen places in Rockville that went well above $45.00 a sq ft

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22 minutes ago, Al Dente said:

Looking at the lunch menu, I was struck by some of the prices. $34 for lamb chops?!? $31 for a ribeye?!? I don't get it.

Kosher meat is crazy expensive. And they have to account for no restaurant revenue on Fri/Sat nights.

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On 1/17/2018 at 2:51 PM, DanielK said:

Kosher meat is crazy expensive. And they have to account for no restaurant revenue on Fri/Sat nights.

This is not unlike why the Biograph ended up showing porn during the days.

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Al Ha'Esh is one of the few kosher meat restaurants in the area.  I have family members who keep kosher, and so we've been here numerous times.  I think the food is good- my favorite dish is shishlik pargiyot (grilled dark meat).  Lamb chops for $34 and ribeye at $31 are by far the most expensive items on the menu.  The other dishes are far more reasonable (most around $14.99) and include an array of refillable salads.  For kosher food, this place is a bargain.

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On 1/20/2018 at 12:20 AM, Lori Gardner said:

Lamb chops for $34 and ribeye at $31 are by far the most expensive items on the menu.  The other dishes are far more reasonable (most around $14.99) and include an array of refillable salads.  For kosher food, this place is a bargain.

 

I agree with you on the rest of the menu. It's just that those two items seemed so out of line with the rest of their offerings. I can't even think of a time where I saw $30+ entrees when virtually everything else is in the teens.

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This place was hopping on a Sunday night.  Steady stream of patrons and many tables were turned over again and again.  We both had kabobs which was great along with the salads mentioned above.  The salads alone were great, eggplant, beet and pickles were my favorites.  We ordered a hummus appetizer which was just OK, not as good as the homemade hummus a friend make.  The bargain of the night was the wine.  15$ for a bottle of Cabernet, Kosher no less.  It was pleasant and certainly worked with the food.

A treasure in Montgomery county. 

My wife thought the grilled chicken livers were outstanding.  I'll stick to more traditional kabobs.

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Went here last night with the kids - great atmosphere, a world away from Max's. Loved the ambiance. The food was also very good - salads, pita, hummus and kebabs. I thought the lamb was much better than the beef, unfortunately they were out of the sweetbreads. Portions of the kebabs were a little small for the price, but overall I left very happy. It is very busy though, so come early and be prepared to wait.

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