If I wasn’t already excited to eat at one of Meir Adoni’s restaurants, watching him as a judge and mentor on the reality TV show The Chef’s Games only increased my excitement.

Unfortunately, we were not able to meet the man himself, but I’m sure his talent and creativity are present in every dish that his staff prepare.

Mizlala by Meir Adoni is a quintessentially Tel Aviv restaurant, a popular destination for local Israelis and tourists alike. We arrived for an early dinner on Monday evening, and the restaurant was already busy and got even busier as the night progressed. The décor is clean and modern, with a slight rustic European touch.

Our waiter Gil and manager Elena were very knowledgeable and attentive. Looking around us, it was clear that they were giving the same level of service to all their customers. The menu was diverse, so we were happy to let them suggest the most popular dishes for us to try.

We started with Zvia’s Kubaneh (NIS 29), a Yemenite bread served with fresh tomato sauce and green chili. The combination of the slightly sweet and oily bread with the simple tomato sauce and the slight kick of the chili was heavenly, and we worked hard to resist finishing the whole thing before the real meal began.

I started off with two dishes from the daily specials menu: fisherman’s Caprese (NIS 89) and grilled artichoke (NIS 39). The Caprese salad was a traditional Italian mozzarella, tomato and basil salad, with the interesting addition of tuna sashimi, artichokes and eggplant cream – a delicious combination. I didn’t enjoy the artichokes as much, as I am used to the more succulent versions from Europe, and the Israeli ones are a poor relative.

My companion devoured both the Palestinian tartare (NIS 79), chopped rump steak served with tehina, pine nuts, yogurt and cumin; and the veal carpaccio (NIS 81), served with buffalo mozzarella, pickled ginger, avocado cream, coriander, crispy tortilla and artichoke. But of the two, he preferred the melt-in-your-mouth carpaccio.

Next, I was delighted by the roasted sweet potato and chestnut ravioli (NIS 79), served on a Jerusalem artichoke paste with almonds, shinoki mushroom, Parmesan and a porcini sauce. It was a fairly small portion for the price, but worth every mouthful, from the perfectly made pasta to the touch of acidity in the creamy sauce.

My companion tried the boulangerie croissant (NIS 87) filled with calf brain, which is one of Mizlala’s signature dishes. Although he enjoyed it, he felt it was probably more popular with Israelis than tourists.

My main course was the mullet fillet (NIS 99) served with roasted eggplant foam, summer green vegetables and sheep yogurt. It was well cooked, though the flavor was less unique and exciting than many of the earlier dishes. The charcoal grilled veal fillet (NIS 138), however, was a clear favorite. Beautifully presented on the plate, the exciting combination of licorice cream, date chutney, red onion, coriander seeds, caramelized walnuts, celery, sweet potato tortellini, mandarin vinaigrette and chili all worked harmoniously to create a truly unique flavor to accompany the steak. The intense flavor of the licorice, balanced by the creaminess of the tortellini and the touch of sweet acidity of the vinaigrette, all worked perfectly.

We finished off our meal with two delightful desserts (each NIS 45). The chili chocolate tart was very rich, with a subtle, warm aftertaste. We loved the accompanying coffee twill and the delightful tang of the fresh oregano garnish. Our second dessert was the cassata – three very generous nougat ice cream cookie sandwiches served with whipped popcorn. Although all the flavors were enjoyable, we found this dish quite heavy. I am still regretting that we didn’t try the Valrhona dessert, which comes with pistachio paste, pistachio twill and juniper toffee crème. At least it gives me a great excuse to go back.

The menu changes regularly, so it is a perfect place to which one can keep returning. I think it should be on everyone’s list of top 10 restaurants to try in Tel Aviv.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Mizlala Not kosher 27 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 566-5505 Sunday to Saturday, noon to midnight

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