The ROOTS Club
Rimal, Gaza City
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Gaza abounds with small, family-run restaurants that serve a vast variety of seafood and mezze. Since the advent of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, traditional seafood restaurants were augmented with larger establishments that have a more varied carte du jour. With the return of a form of "normalcy" the population of restaurant goers in Gaza City grew, as did both the number of restaurants and the menus. Now that Gaza is poised to have another go at a "spring of peace," a new multi-menu, multi-restaurant establishment called the ROOTS Club has opened up in the posh Gaza district of Rimal.
Only a stone's throw away from the Sea Breeze Restaurant (reviewed in April 2005), the club's atmosphere is vaguely reminiscent of the Anglo-Indian country-clubs of the colonial era. The Club is divided into three distinct spaces. The first and most physically compelling is the Green Terrace Café, a green outdoor space that seats up to 180 people in neatly outlined spaces divided by green hedges and furnished with first-class bamboo furniture imported from China. The menu is modest in size and reasonably priced by East Jerusalem standards, but definitely pricy by Gazan standards. With a reasonably sized mezze, sandwiches and light dishes, it is the ideal location on a hot summer night.
The Ambassador Hall is the events venue of the Club, where weddings, conferences and parties are meant to take place. The menu for these events will presumably be made in the kitchen of the Roots Restaurant, the elegantly furnished and air conditioned restaurant that is the main dining venue of the Roots Club.
While the emulation of mosaic stone on the wall and the carved and in-laid wood furniture is very impressive, what is truly staggering is the scope of the menu. Nine different soups, served "only in winter," an equal number of salads, two dozen mezze options, as well as over a dozen appetizers, hot and cold, are just the starters. The seafood menu includes 21 different dishes; the meat section boasts a proud 12 offerings and 13 chicken dishes; with pasta coming in a modest last with only 8 varieties. While restaurants should not be judged by the size of their menus, such a varied list that offers Gazan, oriental, Asian and mainly French dishes is impressive.
With a pricy menu which is adorned with well spiced and richly garnished dishes, the opening of the Roots Club marks a brave endeavour to bring Gaza into a new era of hospitality and dining experience.
Provided both the tanks and the settlers leave Gaza, many visitors will be able to enjoy both the atmosphere and food of the Roots Club.