(photo credit: Courtesy)
Why did our sages think that eschewing meat-eating during the Nine Days of Av was some form of self-denial? They evidently had never eaten at Huberman, a relatively new dairy and fish restaurant next to the rebuilt Habimah, where the food is gourmet, the welcome is warm, and the views from the window in the early evening when we arrived showed Tel Aviv at its best.
We were seated at a table looking out over the adjacent garden where Tel Avivians walk their dogs, children play and carers chat to each other in their native Tagalog, while their charges gaze into the distance, enjoying the fresh air and not understanding a word.
The restaurant is named after the street on which stands the building where the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has played for decades.
The owner, Nachi Laor, is a veteran restaurateur who was also proprietor of Apropos, which once occupied the same building.
When he opened Huberman with a partner eight months ago, it was a standard non-kosher Tel Aviv eatery. Six months later the partner left, Laor decided to go kosher, invited Chief Rabbi Israel Lau to affix a mezuza at the entrance and has never looked back.
On the evening we went to Huberman, there wasn’t an empty table – and not just observant people were patronizing the place.
Word obviously got around that the food was outstanding and that the young chef, Barak Alufer, really knew his job.
We started our meal with two unusual appetizers. My companion chose the roasted eggplant with labane (NIS 43), an original variation on the ubiquitous eggplant with tehina that has become quite routine. The vegetable had been roasted on an open fire to get that marvelous smoked flavor – something few housewives would subject their gas top to nowadays – and the pine nuts sprinkled over the dish added another dimension. I tasted it and could have been happy with a little less olive oil, but it was a very attractive and colorful dish, garnished with tomato and coriander.
My starter was a work of art. It was an artichoke heart cut into four breaded sections with the stalks joined together in a circle of red pepper, all of which sat on a bed of different colored cherry tomatoes and sliced radishes in a lemony dressing. (NIS 43).
The two appetizers came with the most wonderful bread – a crusty country loaf, absolutely fresh and studded with roasted hazelnuts inside and coated with poppy seeds and sesame on the crust. The red pepper relish to dip this great bread into was pleasantly spicy.
For our main courses, we both chose fish. One was a dish of sea bass (NIS 98) – three generous fillets, fried and served with a delectable rich sauce. The other was a very fresh salmon fillet, cooked perfectly with a creamy white sauce (NIS 90). Both dishes came with buttery potato puree in a mini casserole. Another option could.
have been fish and chips (NIS 75) or spicy chreime – Oriental mullet in tomato sauce (NIS 82). For nonfish- eaters, there is a large selection of salads and pasta dishes.
Laor insisted that we sample several desserts, so we were soon dipping into a scrumptious apple crumble (NIS 40), a very light and refreshing cheese cake (NIS 39) and a larger-than-life Snickers bar (NIS 40) – a rich chocolate confection filled with peanut butter cream.
Huberman also offers breakfasts ranging in price from NIS 30 to NIS 64; sandwiches for NIS 30; and a huge selection of drinks and wine.
In fact, the old wine lists are obsolete. At Huberman, you choose your wine from the waitress’s iPad! We left the restaurant with a warm and satisfied glow from the great food and having made a mental note that even when it is not the Nine Days of Av, Huberman is a great place for dining out.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Huberman Kosher Kikar Hatarbut, Tel Aviv (03) 528-9289