Tag Archives: kosher in israel

Enjoying a wonderful lunch at Rendezvous in Neve Tzedek

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Rendezvous

The trend of kosher restaurants opening up in Tel Aviv is a marvelous thing. 10 years ago you were maybe able to find a kosher falafel stand or a very fancy gourmet restaurant. That isn’t the case today. Everywhere you turn, you can find somewhere kosher to eat, milk or meat.

captureThe trend has now hit the art-deco neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, in the city center, by the Shalom tower. The restaurant I visited (I was a guest) is called Rendezvous (Kosher Rabbanut Tel Aviv), an Italian restaurant, run by French chefs. The restaurant took over for the Italian House restaurant that has been there for a very long time and was not kosher.

img_20161222_134014When walking into the restaurant, you feel like you are taken back to your grandparents house; beige wallpapers, big mirror with big frames, old-fashioned couches a very comfortable environment. The wait staff was super nice and polite, and made me feel even more comfortable.

Onto the food. Since I was a guest(I wasn’t alone, I was with 3 other guests), I asked the host to bring out some really unique dishes that I won’t find in every dairy\Italian restaurant. For the appetizers, the chef sent out an endive salad, with a crostini with melted Camembert cheese, An eggplant cream dish topped with a tomato salsa and cornishons, and for something hot,  mushrooms sautéed in a cream sauce on a piece of toasted brioche. Let’s go one by one. The mushrooms blew me away! The cream sauce had a hint of truffle
img_20161222_141212oil in it and it just blew my mind and the brioche was perfect for mopping up the sauce. The eggplant cream dish was a nice dip, smoky and salty, the way a dish should be. The salad was very refreshing and very french with blue cheese hidden in the endive leaves, although the salad was nice, the crostini with the img_20161222_141332melted Camembert was my favorite part of the salad. Who doesn’t love  grilled cheese?

Then I brought a dish that was on the specials menu, a salmon sashimi with a side salad. It was a very delicate dish, very light and very good.

Then for the main course, the chef sent out, a truffle and img_20161222_141429porcini mushroom parpadelle, pizza tortofu, a red drum fish with mashed potatoes and a tomato salsa and one last dish of salmon fillet also served on a bed of mashed potatoes.

I’ll start with the pizza since it was very interesting. I wouldn’t have called it a pizza, it was more like a quesadilla because the dough was super thin and soft. The toppings were interesting too; asparagus, arugula, truffle oil, béchamel, Parmesan, and a runny egg. It wasn’t my favorite and could have used more cheese. Then I tried the parpadelle which was sadly missing seasoning and a img_20161222_141556-1mushroom flavor. The handmade pasta was very nice and al dente but the flavors in the sauce weren’t there. The fish dishes were on point. The red drum fish was cooked perfectly, flaky seasoned well and melted in my mouth. The same for the salmon, cooked to perfection, full of flavor, and a crispy skin for texture. The mashed potatoes were super creamy and full of flavor and weren’t runny at all.  We didn’t have dessert because we were already busting at the seams, but they looked delicious!

For a new restaurant, the food was very good, great service and a very nice ambiance. Rendezvous is a great addition to the beautiful Neve Tzedek neighborhood and to the kosher food world.

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A local Neighborhood favorite in Malcha: Cafe Avichail

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Cafe Avichail

20161027_120956In almost every sitcom you will find the hero’s of the show sitting down somewhere in a local coffee shop or restaurant that the show focuses on. On this occasion, there is no sitcom, but a great neighborhood cafe (Kosher Rabbanute Mehadrin Jerusalem). Cafe Avichayil is located in the center of the Malcha neighborhood (not where the mall is, it’s located in the actual neighborhood) and it has caught the attention of other Jerusalemites and not only the local neighbors.

20161027_122428With that said, there is plenty of parking around the corner, and the place is pretty big. We happened to have noticed that they set up an area for families to eat, with a chalk wall and toys for the kids to play with, very original. We sat down and had a look at the menu, and I liked the way the menu was laid out, every dish had the right category and there was no BS. There were a couple of dishes that caught my eye, for example the Arancini on a roza sauce. I’m an arancini freak, so I ordered that for our appetizer to share. Then in the main courses section, there was an Italian section, salads and fish. What intrigued me was the radiator pasta, I didn’t even know a shape of pasta like 20161027_123341that existed, so we ordered that and then in the fish section we wanted to try the salmon burger, but they were sold out, so we went with the Asian haloumi salad.

The arancini came out piping hot with the steam still coming off the crispy outside, that was golden brown. To cool it off split one of my aranchini in half and the cheese started oozing out, a great sign for a perfectly cooked risotto ball. Once it cooled down and we tasted it,  it was just as delicious as it looked.

Moving on to the main course, the shape of the pasta was awesome. I forget to mention that all the pasta was handmade and it makes all the difference. The sauce needed a bit of salt otherwise it was cooked perfectly al dente and was a great dish. The salad came out hot with a lot going on in one bowl; sweet potatoes, lettuce, peanuts, sprouts, 20161027_123236cheese. A very busy salad, but once you took a bite, every component complimented the next.  It was a great salad that was just as it described, sweetish. We were so full we didn’t get dessert, but the pastries they offered, looked amazing.

All in all, it was a great experience, great food, great service and a great view. So If you are looking for somewhere quiet for a date or a nice dairy meal, make your way to the Malcha neighborhood and give Cafe Avichail a try.

Breakfast in the Secret Garden of Beit Zayit: Derech Hagefen

logo_Derech_HagefenDerech Hagefen

20160803_100727The title of my blog post this week may sound a bit out there, but when my wife and I walked in to Derech Hagefen, we were in awe. For a moment, we felt like we were in the secret garden like right out of the movie. But lets/ take a step first and tell you where it is. Derech Hagefen (Kosher local Rabbanute) is one of two restaurants owned by the same owner and share the same concept: A combination of a green house and coffee shop\dairy restaurant. Derech Hagefen is located in Beit Zayit, a very quiet and green Moshav located at the footsteps of the Jerusalem 20160803_101055Mountains (right off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway). The other restaurant is called Cafe Itamar (review coming soon) located in Moshav Ora on the outskirts of Jerusalem. When I put the location into Waze, you really need to look for the coffee shop because most likely you will miss it like me the first time, but once you park in the parking lot and walk down the hill and get distracted by the dinosaur park you won’t miss it.

When you first walk into the restaurant, it doesn’t feel like a restaurant, 20160803_101828it feels like a nursery that you can purchase plans from. Once you are greeted by the hostess then you come back to realize, oh I’m in a restaurant. We sat down near the coy pond, and I have to mention that there is indoor and outdoor seating. On a hot summer day you can sit indoors with the A\C or sit outside where this beautiful stream of cool mist keeps you nice and cool (I can use one of those for my house!).

Now that we were comfortable and accommodated, we ordered breakfast (you can’t order off the regular menu until 12pm). My wife 20160803_101832ordered the Beit Zayit salad and I ordered the Beit Zayit breakfast which comes with a cold drink and a hot drink. While we were waiting, we noticed something funny, because the sound of the mist, you can’t hear anyone else conversation, but yours and that gave us an even more intimate experience even though we were outdoors with other diners.

Then the food comes, and let me tell you, it may be breakfast but it was impressive. The salad was huge, and came with lettuce, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, Parmesan aioli, goat cheese and so much more. 20160803_110015Iv’e seen thousands of salads in dairy restaurants, but this one, is definitely in my top 3. The creativity and taste really elevated the experience and added another reason to return for another meal. Then comes my breakfast, and omelet with everything but the kitchen sink in it: cheese, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, more cheese. It came with fresh-baked bread that they bake in-house and an Israeli salad that was seasoned to perfection. The other thing that I really like that they served was real butter. Yeah, real butter that is yellow and not a packet like you get in every generic coffee shop\dairy restaurant in Israel.

20160803_105955After almost filling up on the breakfast, I wanted to try one of their homemade desserts, so we tried a slice of cheesecake with a raspberry sauce. When the waiter brought it out sadly it had a hair right on top of it so I asked them to switch it. 5 minutes later they apologized and brought out an extra dessert on the house, for the inconvenience. They brought out a tiramisu and if you are a coffee lover, you will fall in love with this dessert. Then we dug into the cheesecake, which was divine. It really needed that sweet sauce to complement the sour taste of the cheese, it was the perfect balance.

From the service which was amazing, to the ambiance, to the food, the decor, the whole experience at Derech Hagefen was amazing. If you have never been or coming to Israel to visit, or looking for a unique place to go out to eat, you must try Derech Hagefen!

 

 

 

 

 

Eating legit Turkish Shwarma in Tel Aviv: Turk Lachmaj’un

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Turk Lachmaj’un

20160731_123658WOW, when I left, Turk Lachmaj’un I was impressed. I mean it’s known that the two most common street foods in Israel are falafel and shwarma, but the way they do things at Turk Lachmaj’un really take it to the next level. I want to thank my friend Mitch Schnieder for introducing me to this place because I KNOW I’m going to head back there.

Turk Lachmaj’un (Kosher Rabbanute Tel Aviv) has been around for a while, and their standards have stayed the same since day 1. For those 20160731_121912of you who don’t know what a lachmaj’un is, (here comes the culinary tidbit) it’s a loaf of bread baked with any type of meat inside. The dish hails from Turkey, and has become a very popular dish in restaurants around Israel. Traditionally it’s baked with lamb, but those who can’t afford it will use beef or any other meat they fancy. Traditionally it’s served with techina, but you can enjoy it with any dip you like.

Now to the restaurant. I call it a restaurant because it really  is. You have an option to either eat a shwarma to go and have them wrap up 20160731_115844your meal in a laffa or lachmaj’un or to sit down and enjoy the full experience where they bring you salads to your table and you eat with a fork and knife. I chose the first option, and it was perfect! A little more about the restaurant, show up early or you will be waiting a long time to enjoy an amazing meal because the place is packed during the lunch rush. Most of the food is made in-house from the salads to the fries, I don’t know if the meat is prepared there but I know that each lachmaj’un is made in the stone oven that they hide in the corner. Now I need to break down the lacmaj’un process for you: They bake each lachmaj’un fresh to order. the lachmaj’un is prepared like this: they bake the meat and spices into and open-faced type of laffa bread and then when it comes out of the oven, they fill it with more meat!If you aren’t already drooling, here comes the fun part, I chose lamb all the way through, then he put in the fillings that were so fresh, from the techina dripping through, pickled onions, and I don’t even remember what else the guy put in, but it made it a perfect bite! The lamb was super moist and full of flavor and you can taste the lamb all the way through because it’s baked into the bread! The fries were a bit soggy because sadly Israelis don’t believe in a double fry french fry (pomme frites) but everything else was just perfect.

Turk Lachmaj’un is one of the best shwarmas I have had in Israel, definitely in my top 5 in Israel. So if you find yourself in the Nachalat Binyamin area of central Tel Aviv, come by foot, because there’s almost no parking and get on line for some of the best shwarma, Tel Aviv has to offer.

 

The Beef Bar Steakhouse behind IKEA in Netanya


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Beef Bar Netanaya

20160425_211310It happens to be a very rare to find a proper steakhouse in Israel, that the stars of the menu aren’t cuts of steak. Instead the are skewers serving chicken, turkey or beef, but not a proper steak. As I have said in the past that is the real meaning of a steakhouse, that the beef is king, and you don’t call it a stekiya, which is supposed to mean steak house but it’s really an Israeli type which bombard you with fresh salads and pitas, and everything is grilled on a stick. Not that I’m complaining, some of the best meals I have had in Israel are in steakiyot, but Beef Bar really lived up to it’s name.

First thing you see when you walk in, is the decor, a style you’d find in Texas. Leather covered booths, antlers on the walls. Not the typical decor of South American restaurants you’ll find in Israel, because there is nothing south american about the place. All the waiters are wearing uniforms, the bathrooms are clean and there’s an open kitchen.

Knowing that we’re off to a great start, I need to point out how many people we were. We went a party 5 adults and 3 kids eating there on the porch outside. Luckily it was a beautiful night so not many bugs and great weather.

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We started our meal off with a number of appetizers: A liver pate, carpaccio and chicken wings. We also ordered a 8f8d64d6f8204830a11fa5af994731d6nice bottle of Tavor wine to compliment the meat appetizers and mains to come. The appetizers came out pretty quickly and were plated beautifully. The carpaccio had pickled artichokes, green olives and a balsamic glaze to really compliment the thinly slices of fillet, really nice. The we moved on to the pate, which was one of the creamiest pate’s I have ever had. The only other pate dishes that tasted that good to me was at Hachatzer and at Jem’s. The plate was designed beautifully on a 20160425_201820tile with thin slices of toast, a beautiful dish. The wings were crispy on the outside, and the sauce was nicely balanced, between sweet and spicy, all the appetizers were big hits!

Moving on to the mains,  We ordered a lot of meat! There was a fillet, a couple of rib steaks, lamb chops, a New York sandwich, and I ordered something called Feedlot. Feedlot is premium Angus beef, that was aged in the restaurant for 28 days. I have never ordered a cut like that in a restaurant so I gave it a shot. We all ordered different side, but I went with a classic coleslaw 20160425_201835and mashed potatoes.

The meats came out all together and on cast iron pans to keep them warm  which was very professional in my opinion. Hot plates are very important if you are serving hot dishes. So how was the beef you ask? AMAZING! Every cut of beef was cooked to perfection with no mistakes. Very tender meat thanks to the dry aging, great marbling in the steak, and you can tell that they invest in the quality of beef. The lamb chops were tender and full of flavor, and the sandwich had a sauce on it that was finger licking good. The feedlot that I ordered did taste different than regular beef prime rib, very tender and delicious though! The sides were just as good as the mains, creamy mashed potatoes seasoned with just enough salt, and the coleslaw that was just the way it should be, a bit salty and sweet! Other things that caught my eye on the menu was the 1 kilo menu. Instead of ordering a bunch of steaks to order a kilo for the table, unless you’re really hungry, same for the kilo hamburger!

20160425_20473820160425_205338On the verge of a beef coma, my cousins wanted to try dessert. The owner recommended the chocolate mousse and a trio of sorbets. If you are a chocoholic, this mousse is for you. Super creamy, great chocolate flavor, a nice variety of sweet sauces to elevate the dish and a perfect crust to top it all off(even though the crust was on the bottom!). Again an amazing dessert, as for the trio of sorbets. Each one full of fruit flavor and vanilla, all the flavors were just delish!

Price wise, on the pricier side, but worth every penny. From the quality ingredients, to the amazing staff, all worth it. A real steakhouse experience that is pretty hard to find around Israel, and was definitely worth the trip!

My Anniversary Dinner at the new Alumah Restaurant

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20160509_191934Last night my wife and I celebrated 6 wonderful years of marriage together! Our anniversary is really on the 10th but this year it comes out on Yom Hazikaron, so we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate properly. After sharing a bit about why we went, let’s get to the food!

About the place, it is a fine dining establishment: white tablecloths, comfortable chairs and really good service thanks to Gavriel, who was shadowing and teaching the waiters how to work in a fine dining establishment. We asked him what was good, and after that ordered20160509_192659 appetizers. My in-laws, who joined us(Happy Birthday DAD!) ordered the cured trout gravlax style, on beetroot carppacio with a light horseradish cream, my wife ordered the green leaf salad with poached pears and roasted seeds and nuts, and I ordered the salmon and garden peas risotto. Before we started with the appetizers, they started us off with fresh bread made in-house with three dips: A beetroot dip, pesto and an egg based dip. The bread was delicious, and the dips were a hit. the star was definitely the beetroot dip, which we asked for more a couple of times!20160509_192830

The cured trout looked and tasted very fresh and delicious, especially the beet carpaccio, a great addition. The leafy salad was a bit bitter but the poached pears were a very nice balance. The risotto was creamy and smooth and cooked perfectly, the salmon was fresh and the peas were a nice addition as well. After enjoying a slew of delicious appetizers we enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Shiraz from the Dalton winery. For a guy who is getting into wine, it was a delightful wine. Full of flavor with a sweet 20160509_200134and smoky finish with great tannins. I highly recommend it any time you are going to enjoy a nice meat meal!

The we ordered the mains. My wife ordered the grey mullet with swiss chard, mushroom ragout and warm tehini sauce, me and my father in law ordered the rib eye steak with a hollandaise sauce and my mother in law ordered the lamb chops with gnocchi and ratatouille.

The food came out very quickly which was very nice and it did not 20160509_200144disappoint. lets start with the steak. Cooked to a perfect medium rare topped with a gravy with shallots. The steak was grilled to perfection and was so tender it melted in my mouth. It was lacking a bit of salt, but I feel that was a personal preference. The green beans and potatoes were a nice side but the steak was the star of the show.

The fish was presented beautifully but was a bit overcooked. So my wife was a bit dissapointed, but the flavors were definitely brought to the dish. Then the lamb chops. A bit on the fatty side but again cooked to 20160509_200210perfection, and the gnocchi, I can’t stop praising it enough. So light and smooth, melted in my mouth, and to round it all out, the ratatouille was fresh with a lot of basil and was a great compliment to the dish.

After almost filling up we decided to order desserts. they were very interesting and different. like my wife and mother in-law ordered the tapioca and mango with mint, a crepe madlen with vanilla sauce and orange blossom and my father in-law went with the chocolate espresso mousse. The chef sent out an extra dessert for our anniversary which 20160509_203957was a pineapple crumble with banana and date honey ice cream.

This is where the mixed reviews started coming in. First came out the fresh pineapple crumble and ice cream. I Have to say that the banana ice cream was one of the most delicious parve ice creams i have ever tasted and I hate bananas! The crumble was too sweet, but the ice cream stole the show. Then came the tapioca and mango dessert. If you like tapioca anything, this dessert is for you. the mango foam was very refreshing but I’m not a tapioca fan and my wife didn’t like it. on the 20160509_204104other hand my mother in law wiped hers out! It was very pretty and refreshing after such a heavy meal.

The crepe that I ordered also came with a berry ice cream and boy was it needed. The crepes looked amazing, but was overwhelming with orange, and that really hid the taste of the vanilla cream in the crepe. The berry ice cream really broke that orange flavor and again, another amazing parve ice cream. The chocolate espresso mouse was very good. it came with a ball of chocolate ice cream, again the star of the dish. The 20160509_204112mousse was nice and airy, the espresso was very weak which was good because it didn’t take over the whole dish. So the desserts were a bit disappointing but that shouldn’t take away from the rest my dinner experience.

Price wise, it is very decent for a fine dining establishment. For me and my wife it came out about 400 shekels(my in-laws covered for the wine and tip) which in my  opinion is very reasonable.

20160509_204050All in all, they are a restaurant in the beginning of their way, and I hope when I return, I will have a great experience like I had last night!

 

 

A gem in Jem’s Petach Tikvah

3bdd9b16f7bd499fafafa64e9db816faJem’s

The first time I had even heard of Jem’s(Kosher rabbanute) was on the way to my bachelor party. My friends mentioned this bar that makes their own craft beer and serves kosher food that is all made from scratch, I got excited. This was 6 years ago and I had a merry time. Problem was I didn’t remember how good the food was because the beers were amazing! So I met up one Saturday night with my friend Mitch and wanted to try the one that was recently open in the new market of Kfar Saba. (They have another location in Ra’anana as well)When we got there we encountered a problem, it was first come first serve and the place was packed, and the waiting list was ridiculousness. So we took a detour and went to their original spot in Petach Tikvah. The same place I enjoyed my bachelors party. Really enjoyed!

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I was determined to get a table so I called on the way from Kfar Saba, and sort of gave them a guilt trip to letting us have a table. And it worked. So the hostess leads us to are table and we get our menu’s. The ambiance at Jem’s is a modern gastro-pub with very dim lighting and music that’s a bit loud. Big vats of fresh beer brewing everywhere, a foodies paradise.

Taking a look at the menu, I remembered last time I was there I ordered the variety of homemade sausages and onion rings, but didn’t remember what it tasted like so I ordered it again. Mitch ordered the half a BBQ chicken(he was loosing weight at the time and now is running marathons!) and we shared a plate of pate(chopped liver) with homemade pickles. Oh and of course we had to have the homemade brew! I had a pale ale as did Mitch.

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I was so happy when the food came! It looked so appetizing and guess what, it tasted just as good! The sausages had a great snap  and was packing really good meat flavors. The real deal, as were the onion rings, battered in a delicious crunchy coating that was a great compliment to the sausages. The beer was a great compliment to the sausages as well. The pate was one of the best I have had, it was creamy and full of flavor, and you can’t forget the homemade pickles that were just amazing. Mitch said the chicken was very flavorful and moist, and you need moist chicken otherwise it’s like eating plastic.

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It was a great meal that was a bit pricey, but if you are already going out to a place like this you might as well enjoy! Not many places like Jem’s and if you find yourself in the area of any of their locations, give it a try.

Jem’s, HaMagshimim St 15, Petah Tikva 03-919-5367