It has been a while since we have visited an elite chef restaurant in Tel Aviv. We do get excited by food, but generally speaking, chef restaurants usually just don’t pay off. Though we have tried Messa restaurant (and though it received a very high score), we still haven’t tried many restaurants in that level such as Herbert Samuel, Refael, Mul Yam or Yoezer Wine Bar. It was rather the new restaurant of celebrity chef Haim Cohen, Jaffa Tel Aviv, that drew us for a visit.
Jaffa Tel Aviv has opened its gates about a year ago, when Haim Cohen came back to the chef restaurant scene after years of absence, generating a lot of expectations and buzz around it. Finally, along with our newly wed friends, Keren & Samuel, we went to check out how a chef restaurant is really like.
At first look, it is indeed expensive. Very expensive. The starters will cost you between 55 and 65 NIS while for a main course you’ll spend between 90 and 180 NIS. Is it worth it?
The ambiance is definitely our kind. There is a lot of noise around the restaurant, the kitchen is widely open for you to see anything, and generally the atmosphere is not super serious (no white table cloths). The food is somewhat unstable, counting in the price. Some dishes really justified it, and some really didn’t.
Take a starter of Red Tuna Fish Tartar for example. According to the menu, the tartar includes eggplants and “swims” in “off-road” tomatoes. Unfortunately the only taste we could feel of was the tomato paste. You could have removed the fish and the eggplant and no one would have noticed. The paste itself felt as if we could have made it at home, so generally, it was really a lousy dish.
From that point it was rather an uphill as the other starter, Beef Carpaccio with, again, “off-road” tomatoes (didn’t notice the difference with cherry tomatoes) and black-eyed peas, was very good. The beef itself was very good and together with on-the-house excellent focaccia bread, we liked it.
The main courses started giving a great fight to the prices as every bite brought out some enjoyable sounds. A dish of Gnocchi and Spinach with “Hameiri” Cheese was very good but was very small. The Filet of Beef, which was escorted by cauliflower cream, black lentils and bone marrow was delicious. The beef itself was from an excellent quality and grilled to the perfect level, and the cauliflower cream was very special.
It was rather the third dish that drew the most compliments (maybe because we took two of it). A very Israeli main course of Lamb chops, pilled figs, eggplant and fresh Za’atar was simply amazing. Unlike those “off-road” tomatoes, this truly felt as an off-road dish, coming from the Galilee Mountains. The Lamb chops were the best we ever had, and the combination of figs and fresh Za’atar caused some pleasure reactions around the table.
We really wanted the desserts to drive us forward the hill and continue the climb but it was the ups and downs that carried on through the last part of the dinner.
On the one corner, a dessert called “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate”, which contained a Makaron Chocolate cookie, Chocolate fondant, Chocolate ice cream, Chocolate chunks and, of course, Chocolate sauce to dip it all. It was very sweet and very good. Recommended for Chocolate enthusiasts.
On the other corner, we took the waiter’s recommendation – Coconut Crème Brule. The Brule was very boring and didn’t top any of the other Brule’s we had around town.
It is very tough to rate Jaffa Tel Aviv according to that dinner. On the one hand, the main courses were superb and gave us a true chef restaurant feeling, allowing us to overlook the price for a few minutes. On the other, the starters and the desserts were a series of ups and downs that such a high class restaurant simply cannot take. We agreed that although a good restaurant, we won’t go back soon.
The Check Please (4 people)
Bread – OTH
Sira Châteaux Golan Red Wine (bottle) – 205 NIS
Beef Carpaccio – 52 NIS
Tuna Tartar – 65 NIS
Gnocchi – 90 NIS
Filet of Beef – 170 NIS
Lamb Chops (X2) – 360 NIS
Soda water – 12 NIS
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate – 50 NIS
Coconut Brule – 40 NIS
All in all: 1044 NIS
Food: Israeli Fusion
Price: Very (Very) expensive
Location: Yigal Alon Street
The Cizer Kobrinsky Scale
Contact details: Jaffa Tel Aviv
Address: 98 Yigal Alon st., Tel Aviv | Phone: 03-6249249