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