One of my favourite weekend activities is reading the paper over a late breakfast. It turns out that a great place to do this is Mandarin, which not only has several branches in Haifa, but a stack of weekend newspapers. On a Saturday morning in June, when the idea to create this blog first popped into my mind, we went to Mandarin on Sderot HaNassi, in the Carmel Centre (click here for map). I’d only ever been there for lunches or coffee dates (I highly recommend their goulash soup), but have now added them to my list of favourite breakfast places in Haifa. What is special about this café is the setting. It’s located off one of Haifa’s busiest streets but without all the hustle and bustle. There is plenty of outdoor seating surrounded by trees and plants which really feels like a little oasis. Due to the heat we chose to sit inside by the glass walls, overlooking the diners sitting outside. Inside the décor is very homey, with wooden floors, tables and chairs, and old-fashioned ads covering the walls.
Mandarin has a fairly reasonably priced breakfast menu. I chose to order from the low-fat menu, and for 37 shekels received the “Mini-Mandarinit”: a small platter with a selection of low-fat, but very tasty, cheeses, olives and warm, wholemeal bread covered with sunflower seeds and a hard-boiled egg with a salad. The meal included sweet, freshly-squeezed orange juice and and a cup of good coffee to conclude. The salad was fresh except it was made up of tomatoes and cucumbers only, and the onion relish listed on the menu was missing. After informing the waitress she promptly brought the missing elements over to the table (without an apology) and when I commented on the fact that it was a fairly meagre salad, the response I got was one of disinterest. Wouldn’t you expect more than 2 vegetables for something listed as “salad”? My breakfast partner enjoyed his scrambled eggs with mushrooms and ham which came as part of meal which included the same salad, cheeses and beverages as mine.
Food: Great for breakfast. We also recommend their salads, goulash and vegetarian lasagne for lunch or dinner (based on previous experiences).
Atmosphere and Clientele: Relaxed, intimate, suitable for couples and families; people on lunch breaks also fill the place mid-week, as do tourists who happen to stumble across it.
Service: Half of the waitresses were attentive and friendly, the other half cold fish who clearly had no interest in making our experience a pleasant one!
Location/Accessibility: Buses, taxis and the under-ground Carmelit all stop in the area; a 5-minute walk from the Dan Carmel Hotel and the Dan Panorama Hotel; 10-minute walk from the Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn; 15-minute walk from the Bahá’í Gardens.
Parking: Available in the residential streets nearby but can be difficult Sunday-Friday.
Bathrooms: 7/10. Male and Female share.
Wheelchair Access: Yes (but a few small steps at the entrance).
Children: children’s menu and high-chairs available.
Indoor/Outdoor Seating: Yep. Unfortunately, as with many places, smokers can sit anywhere outside, making it impossible for non-smokers to enjoy the area without smoke in their faces.
WiFi: Yes. Great place to study or get work done!
Address: 129 Sderot HaNassi, Mercaz HaCarmel, Haifa (click here for map)
Official website: www.mandarin.org.il (only available in Hebrew)
For more reviews: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293982-d1026288-Reviews-Mandarin-Haifa.html