Where what's in the soup matters less than who's around the table.
Where the flavor of the food takes second billing to the flavor of the room.
The Uri Buri Restaurant in Acre (or Akko, depending) is housed in a centuries-old Ottoman-era stone building. You could have served me dust bunnies in this room, and I would have been charmed.
Fish and seafood are the name of the game at this spot in Israel's Western Galilee.
I served myself some scallops, letting the excess sauce drain back into the serving bowl.
I'm not big into sauces.
And that's when Uri -- chef, proprietor, hotelier, and local personality -- leaned over to me, proclaiming:
"A scallop without sauce is like a kiss without a beard."
You can see why this was especially funny.
Uri runs not only the Uri Buri Restaurant where we had lunch, but also the Efendi Hotel, a painstakingly restored property with stunning details and outstanding views of both the sea and the city. (I recognize that I'm gushing, but please know that we didn't stay there. We ogled, and then we left.)
Here's the rooftop bar.
For all of the hotel's architectural, artistic, and luxurious splendor, I was more captivated by what I found when I walked outside, down on the street below.
The alleyways, for example, with signs of everyday chores and life:
and doorways that look like this:
So the cracks, the peeling, ancient walls, the rich history -- these are the reasons to come to Acre.
The food, the sea, the people, the charm -- these are just garnishes.
See, by then, for me, things had already clicked.
And despite appearances, nothing was falling apart at all.