The Indigo Hotel, part of a worldwide chain of boutique hotels, opened a few months ago in the diamond district of Ramat Gan. Catering to tourists, businesspeople and Israelis looking for a sophisticated holiday destination, the hotel also has an upmarket restaurant open to nonresidents.
Blackstone opened for business at the same time as the hotel and is already building up a loyal clientele.
A meal at Blackstone proved to be an exciting experience.
The kosher restaurant, which seats about 90 people, has a décor that is reminiscent of an English gentleman’s club with a predominance of black, punctuated with white to provide a striking contrast. The walls and tabletops are black, the comfortable leather chairs are white, and the bar area is a combination of the two.
And then there are the elements that remind one of an upper class English pub – the beveled diamond carved mirrors and the ornate iron table legs typical of the local boozer.
We perused the menu, which was not large, and the helpful waitress informed us of other dishes not listed. There were so many choices delivered verbally as opposed to written ones, that it all became quite confusing. The dishes on offer were certainly original and the menu eclectic. There was definitely no schnitzel with fries on offer.
I really appreciated the fact that white linen napkins were given instead of the more usual paper variety, and the tall wine glasses gleamed with promise.
While we waited for the first course, three dips were brought to the table together with wonderful chunks of date and walnut bread.
They were all excellent – spicy red tehina, creamed eggplant and tomato salsa with olive oil.
For the first course, my companion chose the sweetbreads (NIS 59), which came in a miniature steel casserole dish with a lid. The meat had been simmered in port and was served on pureed potatoes. He seemed very happy with the choice.
I decided to go for the roasted artichoke hearts on a bed of iceberg lettuce. (NIS 49). While I cannot fault the taste, I feel that they need to rethink the presentation. One artichoke heart, cut in two, arrived looking rather lost in a huge plate of lettuce. The tarragon dressing was good, light and slightly piquant, but the look of the dish was daunting.
Our pre-dinner cocktails arrived halfway through the starters. The barman certainly knew what he was doing. They two cocktails looked and tasted delicious, brimming with ice, mint and apple slices.
For the main course, I chose grouper in Mediterranean sauce. It was excellent, very hot when it arrived, and the tomato-based sauce was very good. The stir-fried julienned vegetable accompaniment was also excellent, not at all oily and with a subtle flavor not usually associated with this dish. Upon inquiring, we were told that it was made with champagne! My companion’s dish was veal steak in a port and silan sauce, It was rare but tender and was deemed very satisfactory. Grilled sweet and regular potatoes on the side made this a very substantial dish.
The inevitable antipasti arrived, baked vegetables dressed with balsamic vinegar, and served cold.
These were quite acceptable if unremarkable (NIS 43).
For those who love a sweet ending to a meal, Blackstone is definitely the place. There were many choices (all at NIS 39), and it was difficult to choose among such offerings as the sorbet, halva mousse, chocolate soufflé, apple pie and malabi. I decided to try the malabi, as it sounded exotic. This is a kind of Middle Eastern blancmange, or custard, usually made with milk.
Obviously, this wasn’t, and some parve substitute was used, but I found it excellent. It was very refreshing, smooth and cold, with the sweetness provided by the rosewater poured over it and made even more interesting by the topping of pistachios and toasted coconut.
The halva mousse was also good.
It was very creamy and – the highest compliment – didn’t taste parve.
Chocolate soufflé was served warm in a shallow dish and had a light texture. It was pleasing without being too sweet.
The waitress also brought a stemmed glass of strawberries topped with chocolate sauce and mint. This was very aesthetic, as well as being a perfect end to a very good meal.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Blackstone Kosher 5 Aholiav St., Ramat Gan Tel: (03) 930-0033 Open noon until the last diner