Two years ago Shahar and I visited Madrid for a private vacation just before I started to work for Microsoft. As food lovers we searched for places to eat and as usual we were looking for the locals recommendations instead of the touristic places. At that visit we came across a blog of a Spanish guy from Madrid that wrote English recommendations about the Spanish restaurants. In that trip we have realized we should write such a blog about Tel Aviv. My current trip, which was a business trip, was some kind of a closure as I visited the city in which the blog was founded from.
Thanks to my Spanish guide Hector, and some wondering around the streets I have tested again the wonderful tastes of Madrid.
Mercado de San Miguel
I admit, this is a very touristic place and it seems that the locals don’t really go there. Nevertheless it was very nice experience of colors, tastes and sounds. I even discovered over there that Sea Urchin is something people actually eat.
Very ‘value for money’ place. You can’t book a place in advanced so we came there, registered and went to drink a beer in the Chueca barrio. At the restaurant itself I took a Burger that was a bit dry in my opinion but overall it was a good lunch. Very good Cheese Cake.
To this place I arrived just because it was very close to my hotel. I had a traditional dish of Octopus with Potatoes and Paprika (Pulpo Gallego).
I have asked Hector for a tapas and beer tour in all the cool places, so he took me to Calle de la Cava Baja in La Latina. We were in a few places and the one I liked the best was Txacolina. The place had good vibe and quite big tapas.
La Gloria Montera
Another place by the owners of the Bazar restaurant. Overall i think it was also value for money as I payed 21 EUR for a good Salad, Entrecote Steak and wine. I drank the wine by myself, wishing Shahar was there to share the experience with me.
I have arrived here by chance. I was walking around the streets looking for something to eat and I was already a bit tired from all the deep fried food. Then I have noticed this small and cute place and I knew right away this is the place for me. It was a bit expensive but definitely worth it. The pasta was great and I finally had a real salad with fresh vegetables
I went there on our night out with all the Spanish guys and the people from the training. In my opining the tapas there were over-fried. I mean why everything should be deep fried? And when I’m saying everything I mean that even the oysters were fried.
My biggest challenge in Madrid was going by myself to a tapas bar, push people in order to get to the bar and then to ask for food in Spanish. On my last night in Madrid I decided I will do it no matter what. I went back to Cava Baja and found Tempranillo. It wasn’t easy for me but I found myself at the bar asking for “Jamon Serrano con pan tomate y vino tinto” and afterwards I was able to ask for 2 or 3 more tapas by myself from the Spanish menu. That was a joy! And the food was very good as well.
Yes I know, this is a food blog not sports. Nevertheless one cannot miss mentioning that he (or she) was at a game of Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu. Absolutely amazing experience that does not remind the Israeli football in any way.
This year, birthday came early. As Inbar headed off to Spain for a business trip (wait for the post…) she decided to celebrate my birthday by doing a touristic tour in the wonderful city of Tel Aviv. Starting off at the city lookout point of Azrieli Towers, we had some great views of Tel Aviv, the neighboring cities and the sea. A bicycle ride throughout the Tel Aviv boardwalk led to the mystic Montifiore graveyard where all the famous Tel Aviv founders are rested. The final spot at that Friday morning was the chef restaurant of Yonathan Rushfeld – Herbert Samuel.
Famous chef Rushfeld, is the head chef of three different restaurants across Tel Aviv (Tapas Echad Haam, Yavne Montifiore and Herbert Samuel) and also appears as a judge in the Master Chef TV show. While we visited the other two restaurants, Herbert Samuel is considered as Rushfeld’s flagship, one of Tel Aviv best restaurants and a tourist favorite. That in mind, you can understand what were our expectations from the Friday birthday lunch.
Though you can hardly have a view of the sea, the large glass font window allows nice lighting around the place, especially at the fabulous large bar facing the front. Arriving on Friday noon, we knew there’s a good option of an affordable fixed price lunch. The set menu named “Discover Herbert Samuel” includes five courses which we took along with a “regular” Friday lunch set menu.
Throughout the lunch we felt the food was good. We can’t say anything bad about it, really. It’s just that there was very little special about it and most of the food can be found at the same quality in a handful of places around town.
Take the eggplant and Tulum cheese starter for example. Yes, Tulum cheese gives a nice kick to a light starter. Even though, the Baladi Eggplant is such a boring starter that every restaurant in Tel Aviv serves that event the cheese couldn’t wow us in any way. The other starter, chopped raw Grouper and Tuna fish on top of eggplant cream, was better and had very delicate flavors, but again it was nothing special.
Things became way better when a foamy soup of Jerusalem Artichoke, chestnuts and Truffles arrived to the table. The surprisingly large dish was exactly what you would expect from a chef restaurant – original, bold and simply excellent, and emphasized the disappointment of the rest of the lunch.
A “torn” pasta with Crystal Shrimps had some nice fresh zucchinis and tomatoes but was a little blend and didn’t exposed the quality of the Shrimps, which was a shame. Together came a seared Grouper fish that was cooked great, but was accompanied with a zucchini and garlic paste which lacked flavors and didn’t suit the fish at all.
The next two dishes came as we started to feel a bit full yet still looking for some fine courses. Again, it was just lacked a bit. A course of Lamb chops was OK but way (way) below the great Lamb Chops at Haim Cohen, while what was labeled as “Chopped Rib-Eye Steak” turned out to be just a burger. Luckily this burger was very good and was accompanied with a very tasty red wine sauce.
The dessert was a joy to the eyes and the palate. A Pistachio ice-cream and fresh chopped tropical fruits accompanied with Mascarpone sauce filled Baklavas and Pistachio was a very cheerful and refreshing dish.
Herbert Samuel might be the tourist culinary showcase of Tel Aviv and Israel. The food is good, we can’t say it isn’t. Even though, as a gourmet dining choice it is definitely not the best one.
Note: only days later we discovered the restaurant billed us for a bread basket brought to the table while it was never mentioned nor they asked us if we would like it.
The Check Please (2 people)
Bread – 19 NIS
Friday Set Lunch – 88 NIS
Discover Herbert Samuel – 160 NIS
Pepsi X2 – 24 NIS
Soda Water X2 – 20 NIS
Pistachio Dessert – 42 NIS
All in all: 420 NIS
Food: Chef Restaurant
Price: Very Expensive (though an affordable Friday Lunch)
Location: Hayarkon Boardwalk
The Cizer Kobrinsky Scale
Contact details: Herbert Samuel
Address: 6 Koifman st. Tel Aviv | Phone: 035166516