I’m not overweight or particularly unhealthy, but I’m getting there. A lifestyle change is in order. In fact, it’s been mandated by medical professionals.

Now, I do want to eat healthy on a consistent basis, but I have no desire to give up on eating out occasionally at decadent restaurants. To my delight, there is a healthy, organic restaurant that features a wide variety of creative, culinary masterworks at incredibly reasonable prices – Café Louise.

The vegans, vegetarians and gluten- free eaters out there must surely already be aware of Café Louise.

However, for me it was a welcome revelation. They started in Haifa, where they have two branches, and expanded to Kiryat Tivon and Moshav Bnei Dror in the Netanya area. The branch at which I dined is in the northern Tel Aviv enclave of Ramat Hahayal. This location, in a rather hidden-away area, has been open for three years. Another branch is opening soon in Ramat Hasharon.

For vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, Café Louise boasts an all-natural kitchen, using no canned foods, no mayonnaise, no flour, and a menu that changes seasonally in accordance with the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. They make a variety of spreads, mostly olive-oil based, as well as their own house sourdough bread, olives and cheeses, all of which are available in their take-out deli.

We started our meal by sampling two of Café Louise’s signature drinks.

The Ice Watermelon (NIS 21) is the most refreshing thing imaginable.

However, I was even more taken with the Green Shake (NIS 18), which is a cool, frothy blend of apple, cucumber, celery and mint.

As our first appetizer, we had the minestrone soup (NIS 34), a rich blend of vegetables with a lovely flavor, served with bread and the house garlic spread, which is made solely of garlic and olive oil – something I never would have believed judging by the taste of it.

We also opted for the tapas platter for two (NIS 57), which features a basket of various breads made of different grains which change seasonally, green tahini sauce, 5% spiced goat’s cheese, basil pesto, smoked salmon (smoked in-house), tomato-eggplant spread, garlic spread, olives, goat feta cheese and salad.

For our main course we had the vegan sandwich (NIS 49) – tofu strips stir-fried with onions, mushrooms and silan (date syrup), with lettuce, tomato and garlic spread on the house’s sourdough bread, accompanied by a green salad and olives. All sandwiches are also available on gluten-free bread.

Our second entrée was the Gnocchi Louise (NIS 58), a marvelous dish with sweet potato gnocchi, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, Parmesan cheese, chives, with salmon optional for an additional NIS 18. The salmon was cooked to perfection and surprisingly ample.

Café Louise is a refreshing alternative to standard Israeli restaurant/café food, which can tend to be a bit repetitive. The health factor is just a bonus. For those hosting vegetarians, vegans or people on restricted diets, this is a wonderful place to take them. The atmosphere and seating are pleasant, with outdoor tables available and an upstairs gallery that is also fitting for events.

While health food is not always synonymous with affordability, you will be satisfied with the amount and quality of food you get at Café Louise for the price. Appetizers/light dishes are available for NIS 40-50, or you can opt for the house bread with one of their signature spreads for only NIS 13. Main course prices range from NIS 49-67 for pasta or chicken dishes, or if you want to splurge, NIS 97 for a salmon filet in an herb-lemon sauce.

The entrees come with healthy side dishes such as quinoa and green beans, whole wheat couscous or roasted vegetables. Salads range from NIS 55-60, and sandwiches are about NIS 50.

Café Louise also serves kids’ meals for about NIS 40 and business lunch specials with a drink and first course added to your entrée for NIS 15.

Café Louise is indeed a healthy restaurant, but they have not neglected those with a sweet tooth.

Their desserts, ranging from NIS 35- 43, include a gluten-free and sugar- free cheesecake with orange chocolate truffle on a hazelnut base, a coconut milk tapioca with seasonal fruits and silan or Louise’s Chocolate Sin, a chocolate biscuit cake with cocoa beans and almonds.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Café Louise
Not kosher
11 Harugey Hamalcut, Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 649-2000
Sunday - Saturday, 7:30 a.m. until last customer leaves
www.cafelouise.co.il.

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