Israel is on a bit of a high, with a whopping 4.1 million tourists visiting last year — 14% up on the year before. A big reason for the trips must have been the food, with Tel Aviv emerging as a foodie destination.
Jerusalem has traditionally held the crown as Israel’s kosher capital - where fine-dining is concerned in particular — whereas Tel Aviv was traditionally too treyf for more obervant eaters. However there have been a few new openings serving five star food for kosher eaters, and with top of Israel's top chefs at the helm.
Three to look out for are:
Chef Yoram Nitzan, previously head chef of the Mul Yam and Bindella restaurants, has, this month, opened in the InterContinental David, Tel Aviv. Nitzan's food is mixes global cooking techniques with indignenous Israeli flavours. The fish, meat and vegetarian dishes include slow-roasted goose leg; Dover sole in a turnip lemongrass broth and a ‘Five Shades of Cappuccino’ dessert.
Chef Eyal Shani is the man said to have inspired the trend for cauliflower, and the founder of Port Said, Romano, North Abraxas and Miznon in Tel Aviv as well as branches of Miznon in New York, Melbourne, Vienna and Paris. His first kosher eatery, Malka, opened last year. The idea behind Malka is to bring the up-to-date Tel Aviv culture to the kosher-eating crowd. The menu is packed with plenty of traditional Eyal Shani-style dishes, which include crunchy schnitzel filled with smooth potato puree, lamb kebabs in herby focaccia and whole-baked sea bass served in a baking tin, surrounded by caramelised chunks of sticky, sweet roasted tomatoes. The atmosphere is fun and funky. Kosher at its best.
Blue Sky Restaurant
This more formal dining room sits on the 15th floor of the waterside-based CarltonTel Aviv Hotel. Behind the stoves is another Israeli star chef — Meir Adoni — who is also the main man at non-kosher Catit, Mizlala and Lumina restaurants. Idyllic views of the sea and Tel Aviv cityscape are matched by top notch food and wine combinations on Adoni’s seasonal, fish-centric menu. There is also a wine pairing menu available. Highlight dishes include smoked paprika, seared tuna steak with Moroccan harissa, fresh turmeric cream and garlicky grilled sea bream with aubergine cream, tahini and crunchy almonds.