A royal feast in Jaffa

Vashti, located near the iconic Clock Tower, offers simple, elegant dishes in an intimate setting.

By OREN KESSLER
September 2, 2011 17:35
2 minute read.
Vashti

Vashti restaurant 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Just steps from the Clock Tower roundabout, Vashti is a welcome addition to Jaffa’s ever-maturing culinary roster.

Opened three months ago, the restaurant was the brainchild of three friends: architect Shmulik Davidson, theater actor Florence Bloch and artist Rahel Hagigi. The small restaurant’s appeal lies chiefly in the elegant simplicity of its dishes and the eclectic cool of its decor.

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Chef Meirav Davidson, just 22, earned her stripes at Machneyuda, a popular Mediterranean-style restaurant near Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market. Her presentation is one of restrained refinement, with simple yet creative aesthetics and light flavors. “My confidence comes from the raw ingredients,” she says.

Davidson’s menu is likewise direct and to the point: two options for starters and a handful of mid-size dishes and main courses.

For starters, try the carpaccio of red tuna and corvina (musar, in Hebrew) garnished with passion fruit, or the calamari on an eggplant filet with cherry tomatoes (both NIS 26).

Among the mid-size dishes, the gazpacho, blended with goat’s milk yogurt, is a revitalizing summer treat (NIS 32).

The menu is heavy on meat and seafood, and diners opting for either won’t be disappointed. Highlights include lamb meatballs with tarragon (NIS 58) and a delectable seared butcher’s cut steak served medium rare with preserved lemon and fried potatoes (NIS 92).

Vashti has a full and formidable dessert menu that includes Chef Davidson’s signature macaroons, lemon meringue pie, a malabi (milk pudding) trio and semolina cake topped with pistachio, cinnamon and cardamom (NIS 28-35).

The wine list is respectable, with mostly Israeli wines starting at NIS 20 a glass. We chose the Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which is dry and crisp – far from the limpness afflicting lesser Sauvignons – perfect for cooling down on a sultry Jaffa evening.

Vashti is family-friendly but could also serve as the venue for a casual date. The service was impeccable, with friendly wait staff available at our beck and call.

The ambience is intimate and relaxed, with a view of the kitchen from the bar and indoor tables. The walls are lined with modern art, and an eclectic soundtrack – from the Buena Vista Social Club to Johnny Cash – lends the place an aura of an oh-so-hip cafe. Outdoor seating offers guests a view of Jaffa’s main Yefet Street artery and a welcome breeze wafting from the Mediterranean.

In the Book of Esther, Vashti is the wife of King Ahasuerus, banished from the Persian court for refusing to appear at the royal banquet. Visitors to Jaffa would do well to treat themselves to a feast at this modernday Vashti, a small gem in the crown of the port city’s restaurants.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Vashti Not kosher 8 Retzif Ha’aliya Hashniya, Jaffa Tel: 057-942-8679 Open Monday to Saturday 6 p.m. – midnight http://vashti.rest-e.co.il/


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