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The Disappointed Tourist – Herbert Samuel

2 Nov
Tel Aviv from the City Lookout Point of Azrieli

Tel Aviv from the City Lookout Point of Azrieli

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.

Olive oil with balsamic vinegar

Olive oil with balsamic vinegar

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.

Eggplant and Tulum Cheese

Eggplant and Tulum Cheese

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.

Chopped Raw Grouper and Tuna

Chopped Raw Grouper and Tuna

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.

Soup of Jerusalem Artichoke, Chestnuts and Truffles

Soup of Jerusalem Artichoke, Chestnuts and Truffles

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.

“Torn” Pasta with Crystal Shrimps

“Torn” Pasta with Crystal Shrimps

Seared Grouper Fish

Seared Grouper Fish

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.

Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

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.

Chopped Rib-Eye Steak

Chopped Rib-Eye Steak

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.

A Pistachio ice-cream and fresh chopped tropical fruits

A Pistachio ice-cream and fresh chopped tropical fruits

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

Summary

Food: Chef Restaurant

Price: Very Expensive (though an affordable Friday Lunch)
Location: Hayarkon Boardwalk

The Cizer Kobrinsky Scale

3 Forks

 

Contact details: Herbert Samuel

Address: 6 Koifman st. Tel Aviv | Phone: 035166516

Copycats – Fleamarket

8 Sep

We might have mentioned this before, but as tourists in Tel Aviv, you must not miss a night (a day as well, but nevertheless) in Jaffa Flea Market. The restaurant and bar scene at the “authentic” location not far away from Jaffa Port is becoming trendier as the time passes. Dozens of locations spread along the market area making it livelier at night than at day, and a great reason to visit. It is no surprising that the oh-so-2011 market-restaurants will arrive to the flea market. The name didn’t surprise as well – the Fleamarket.

Jaffa Flea Market @ Night

Jaffa Flea Market @ Night

Well, unsurprising is probably what you’ll think all along your dinner (at least if you had some dinners in Tel Aviv). Yes, the location is great – the vibe coming from this area is quite laid back, almost like visiting the beach towns of Turkey or Greece. The vast amount of street tables is really fun and gives you the feeling of the old market coming to life. With that sort of pre-conditions, you would expect the food to match.

Andalusian Gazpacho soup

Andalusian Gazpacho soup

But it was so predictable. The same owners of the La Shuk restaurant from Dizingoff (which is itself a copy of Machne Yehuda restaurant from Jerusalem) brought to the Fleamarket the exact same type of food, with the same paper-menus-retro-metal-chairs, well, you get the point.

Tuna fish Nicoise Salad

Tuna fish Nicoise Salad

And it wasn’t that the food was bad – a dish of Andalusian Gazpacho soup was OK, though not thrilling. Another starter of fresh Tuna fish Nicoise Salad was also not bad at all – it had some very classic taste achieved by a nice sauce. Even though, its pricing was somewhat high.

 Black & White Grilled Calamari

Black & White Grilled Calamari

The main courses kept the same spirit – tasty yet boring. The black & white grilled Calamari with goat yogurt was well executed, but we had the same dish in more than a dozen restaurants around town. The now-so-popular grilled sweetbreads had also some classic tastes in it, and it was rather the grilled Artichokes, Fennel and Beet that gave the bit-more-special variety to the dish.

Grilled Sweetbreads

Grilled Sweetbreads

Along with some Cabarne Franc white wine that was recommended to us, we have decided that market restaurants have finally lost their excitement in Tel Aviv restaurant scene. Though it doesn’t mean it will be easy for you to find a table in the Fleamarket, don’t expect it to surprise you in any way.

The Check Please (2 people)

Red Tuna Nicoise – 69 NIS
Andalusian Gazpacho – 28 NIS
Sweetbreads – 69 NIS
Black & White Calamari – 49 NIS
Cabarne Franc (by the glass) X2 – 78 NIS

All in all: 283 NIS

Summary

Food: Market Food
Price: Medium-Expensive
Location: Jaffa Flea Market

The Cizer Kobrinsky Scale

3 Forks

 

Contact details: Fleamarket

Address: 8 Rabbi Yohanan St. Jaffa | Phone: 036202262

Turning Tables – HaShulchan (Table)

4 Jun

A while ago, three months ago to be precise, Adi, Elad and I have decided to check the “Table”, the new restaurant of the young and promising chef Omer Miler. I admit, it has been a while but I can still remember the good and the bad.

Though we came time, the restaurant wasn’t ready for us. After several minutes of waiting to the hostess (that didn’t give us too much attention), we were seated in a “Table”.

We start with Egg Schnitzel – the restaurant most famous dish – Eggs coated in bread crumbs and pan fried as a schnitzel. The egg was served with Garam masala, shallots, green onion & lime vinaigrette dressing. I have a weakness for soft boiled egg with liquid yolk; as such this dish should have been the perfect match for me – but it wasn’t. I can’t say the dish wasn’t tasty but in my humble opinion the flavors did not really combine together.

Egg Schnitzel

Egg Schnitzel

In addition we took “Iceberg Salad” – In this case, the chef decided on a broad interpretation to meaning of salad as we were only served Iceberg lettuce with some sauce on it.

Grilled Calamari & Cheese Tortellini

Grilled Calamari & Cheese Tortellini

For main course Elad and I took the same dish – Grilled Calamari that wasn’t very remarkable. Adi took Cheese Tortellini which according to the menu should have contained mushrooms; in practice the mushrooms weren’t there at all. The waitress response was “it’s there – you just can’t notice it”.

Strawberry & Malabi

Strawberry & Malabi

For desert we took fresh strawberries that were served on top of mascarpone cheese; we have received complimentary Roseta Malalbi that was served with date honey, palm and almonds. Both of the deserts were light and tasty.

When summarizing our visit, although it was a while ago, I would say that big disappointments come from high expectations. Omer Miler has set a high bar but in our opinion did not pulled it off.

The Check Please (4 people)
Egg Schnitzel – 28 NIS
Iceberg Salad – 44 NIS
Grilled Calamari – 2X68 NIS
Cheese Tortellini  – 62 NIS
Colombia Gewurztraminer – 110 NIS
Strawberry – 36 NIS
Malabi – 36 NIS (on the house)
Espresso – 10NIS
Cappuccino – 12 NIS

All in all – 438 NIS

Summary:

Food: New Israeli Kitchen
Price: High
Location: Rothschild

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3 Forks

Contact Details: Table

Address:  73 Rotchild st., Tel Aviv| Phone:  03-5257171 | Daily 12:00-Late

Adjusting Expectations – Doris Katzavim (Butchers)

22 Mar

About four years ago, I was travelling up north when I started to look for something descent to eat. In general, the restaurants around Rosh-Pina do not offer something exceptional. Even though around the town entrance, right behind the gas station I found Doris Katzavim (Doris Butchers). The Beef displayed raw in front of the diners really aroused and the steaks were simply amazing.

The Beef display

The Beef display

Few years have gone by, and “Doris” has made a name for itself as one of the best steakhouses, opening two more steakhouses – In Tel Aviv and Zichron Yaakov. The Tel Aviv branch has recently closed its doors so when travelled with family up north for Mom’s birthday, Doris at Zichron was an obvious pick.

Doris is a steakhouse offering local Beef from the Golan Heights, which definitely has quality. According to some reviews it seems that the glory that it has back then, has quite crumbled. That was a chance to check it out.

The appetizers

The appetizers

With eight people sitting around the table (plus a baby), it is not that simple to serve easily nor with a constant smile upon your face but I think the Doris team managed to pull it off. The service was good and attentive to our needs. Even though, it is a shame that the appetizers were simply bad.

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

Yes, I do know this is a steakhouse and we all come there to eat some dead cows, but the appetizers, which included Eggplant with Tehini, Chickpeas, Egg salad, Cauliflower, Beets and Sweet Potato, were quite embarrassing and tasted as they were taken out of a tin can. The other starters, which included vegetables salad, Wheat groats Salad and Beef Carpaccio were much better (especially the Beef Carpaccio).

Fillets of Beef

Fillets of Beef

Most of us took steaks for main course. There were few Fillets of Beef, a T-Bone Steak, a Lamb Burger and I took the Hanger Steak (which some say is the ultimate test for a quality Steakhouse). One can’t argue that all the steaks were good. They felt as quality, fresh and tender. Even though, most of the faces around the table looked disappointed. At these prices, at that restaurant, you would expect to have one of the best steaks you ever had. It wasn’t the case – not even close.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

The side dishes – Onion cakes, over Potatoes and grilled vegetables – were quite nice, so as the sweets – a classic and tasty crème Brule, an Apple Crumble and an excellent Kanafe (though not as good as  the one in Kalamate).

Kanafe

Kanafe

Summarizing Doris I would state that it is an expensive Steakhouse with some good steaks, but unfortunately, not exceptional relatively to other places (up north or in Tel Aviv).

The Check Please (8 people) – Highlights

Beef Carpaccio – 59 NIS
Mezze Plate – 59 NIS
Wheat Groats Salad – 25 NIS
T-Bone Steak (400 gr) – 129 NIS
Fillet of Beef (250 gr) – 137 NIS
Hanger Steak (250 gr) – 137 NIS
Crème Brule / Kanafe – 30 NIS each

All in all – 1490 NIS

Summary:

Food: Steakhouse
Price: Very Expensive
Location: Zichron Yaakov

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3 Forks

Contact Details: Doris Katzavim
Address:  near Baron Gardens, Zichron Yaakov| Phone: 04-6397030 |
Sun-Thu 12:00-23:00 Fri-Sat 12:00 – Late
http://doris-k.co.il/ (no English)

Spice Up Your Friday – Levinsky Market

2 Mar

Mark yourselves a 2-hour time window at some Friday morning. Then you can stroll to one of the liveliest streets in Tel Aviv at that time – Levinsky Street. Levinsky Market, stretched along the street (from Ha’alia down west), is hectic and not so tourist oriented, but definitely should not be overlooked. The street is filled with shops selling spices, delicatessen, cheese and oriental food and would be a great place to add some touch-ups to your recipes.

As the market is becoming trendier lately, few places to eat are popping out here and there, throughout the market. At two different opportunities we have managed to visit two of the places that set out two very different experiences while supplying their own variation of the market.

Cafe Kaimak

Café Kaimak, located at the Nachlat Binyamin corner, is literally part of the market. As it is fully opened to the market, right between the vendors, you can hear all the trouble happening outside while sitting in the unpretentious setting. The prices are welcoming as well as the service and the food is pretty nice as well. On the late Friday morning, when we sat along with Adi for a late breakfast, we had a very decent Shakshuka (27 NIS) and a “Red Toast” that included Gauda cheese, tomatoes and a great red peppers paste (36 NIS).

Shakshuka (Cafe Kaimak)

Red Toast

Café Kaimak:

Food: Breakfast
Price: Cheap
Location: Levinsky Market

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3 Forks

Devochka

Devochka (“Girl” in Russian), located a bit off the market at the crossing HaChalutzim Street, is offering a far more relaxed atmosphere. You can pick one of a variety of sandwiches, made at the spot with some market goods displayed at the counter. Though there is (very) little place to sit inside, try to grab a sandwich and sit at the stools outside and catch some relaxing Friday noon sun (good luck finding that available spot). While meeting with Samuel and Keren for a lunch there, right before the vendors closed their shops, we had some great Corned Beef Sandwich and Cheese Sandwich (24 NIS each) along with a well-suitable-for-Friday-noon Coffee.

Devochka Counter

Corned Beef Sandwich

Devochka:

Food: Sandwiches
Price: Cheap-Medium
Location: Off Levinsky Market

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3.5 Forks

Coffee & Afternoon Sun (Devochka)

New House, Old Food – Casa Nova

3 Dec

Rainy Friday noon in Jaffa in amazing arched building – we set a brunch in a ceviche place named Casa Nova, or as the sign say “Cevicheria”. The place tells about itself that their specialty is new Latin food.  Sounds premising in theory, but in practice… well, read this post and decide for yourself.

Mixto

Inbar took the Mixto – mix of Fish, Shrimps, Calamari and Mussels in lime, red onion and coriander in chili cream, which was probably the highlight of the meal – a nice and fresh sea salad. Shahar took Escabeche –Fish “a la plancha” in vinegar of onion and pepper served on top of avocado crème. The fish was soaked in vinegar for too long which caused it to be very sour and not so tasty. Adi took Calentado, rice with black beans and tomato sauce topped with egg, sunny side up style, and mullet fish fillet. The rice was undercooked, the egg came in a different plate (they forgot to serve it…) and the fish seemed to come from a different story (although Adi thought it was nicely cooked).

Escabeche - The fish was soaked in vinegar for too long

Calentado - fish from a different story

We have also shared Remolacha & Almojabanas. Remolacha is a beet salad that was served with carrots, coriander seeds and Manchego cheese. The salad wasn’t special but it was good due to the fine cheese that supplied that needed edge.  Almojabanas are scones of corn and cheese that were quite unique and suited the salad.

Remolacha - Beet Salad

Almojabanas - scones of corn and cheese

We were also served a complimentary dish (that was charged by mistake) – Choritos – Mussels and shells with salsa of red onion and tomatoes. The dish was small and the mussels felt as they were taken out of freezer.

Choritos

To sum up the experience – the setting is amazing and you can have some wonderful sea view but the food is somewhat disappointing.  If you’re just looking for an outstanding sea view – go for it, just don’t expect outstanding food.

The Check Please (3 people)

Calentado – 74NIS
Escabeche – 39NIS
Almojabanas – 28NIS
Remolacha – 21NIS
Mixto – 40NIS
Cava Brut – 48NIS
Mineral water – 14NIS
Choritos – 28NIS

All in all: 264NIS

Summary:

Food: Sea food / Latin
Price: High
Location: Jaffa port

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3 Forks

Contact Details: Casa Nova

Address:  Ratzif Haalya Hashnia 48, Jaffa port| Phone: 03-5413636
http://www.casa-nova.co.il

In-sea-fficient – Sifo

27 Jul

The Flea Market

Let’s start from the end – it’s not that we didn’t like the place – it is just that we expected more of it. It was simply insufficient. This year is the second year in which the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is conducting the Pishpashuk – opening the flea market late in the evening every Thursday night during the summer. In this event the stores of the market alongside some stands and restaurants are open until midnight.

The Crowded Street

One can imagine that this kind of event will attract a lot of people. As such, we came early to the market (about 8:00 PM – don’t come near with a car later then that!) and we went straight to Sifo – a new seafood place that we have planned to visit thanks to some good reviews.

Sifo

We started with Fish Tartar that was served with slices of beet. This dish was an example for the whole meal – it was good but something was missing. For example – this dish was made from fresh ingredients but we missed some spiciness in it – adding green paper would have made it better.

Fish Tartar with Beet

We then continued with “Pasta” – served with Artichoke, Crab Beef & Calamari – another dish that sounds good “on the paper” (or should we say “on the menu”). Once again, on the plate it was good – but this time we missed the salt.  The Octopus Salad suffered from a combination of unrelated ingredients such as Tehini.

Pasta

At that point Adi have joined the table and ordered the Fish Ceviche that took lots of time to get to the table and was not different from the other dishes. In the meantime we were still a bit hungry and ordered small plate of Grilled Calamari – that had too much oil in it.

Grilled Calamari

For desert we ordered the chocolate cake which had a good bottom and average top (which was the cake itself).

Chocolate Cake

All in all it the dishes were fine, but none of them shined over the view of the crowded market. Next time we’re going back to Kalamata

The check please (3 people)

Octopus Salad – 45NIS
Pasta – 63NIS
Fish Tartar – 45 NIS
Ceviche – 45 NIS
Grilled Calamari (100 gr)  – 32NIS
Krombacher beer – 18NIS
2 X Bottomless wine glasses – 50NIS
Chocolate Cake – 36NIS

All in all: 384 NIS

The Cizer-Kobrinsky Scale:

3 Forks

Summary:

Food:  Seafood
Price:  Medium-Expensive
Location: Jaffa’s Flea Market

Contact details: Sifo

Address:  3 Rabbi Nachman St. Corner with 13 Amiad, Jaffa |   03-6038121
Opening Hours:  Saturday-Thursday 12:00PM-Late | Friday 12:00-18:00 | http://www.facebook.com/Sifo.Jaffa (No website)

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