When I walked into the restaurant Charlotte near the Carmel Market, I had a very strange feeling of déjà vu. I knew I had been to the same place about a year ago, but back then it was called Haztela Hashminit. It was exactly the same inside, and everything seemed very familiar. I remembered that I had a great experience the last time I was there, so I was reassured to find out that it indeed had the same owners.
However, Charlotte is a rebranded version with a revamped menu and a new chef. If the standard and innovation were anything like the previous version, then I knew I was in for a treat. Luckily for my friend and me, the food was even better than last time.
While the menu seemed quite similar, I was reassured that new chef Uri Raz Biron had included some of his own personal touches. Even though it is branded as a new summer menu, it includes a lot of heavy meat-based dishes, as well as a few lighter fish and seafood options, many of them served with fresh vegetables.
My friend and I sat in a secluded corner of the intimate restaurant, which is set just off Nahahlat Binyamin Street. This was actually the same spot that I had sat with another friend the last time I visited, so I already felt at home.
While the prices are more suited to a fancy bistro restaurant, the atmosphere in Charlotte is very relaxed, and there are none of the snobby pretenses that quite often go with these kinds of restaurants. The waitress was very relaxed and informal, which added to that “at home” feeling.
The heat outside meant that both of us were exhausted and in no mood to examine the many options on the menu, all of which seemed very complex. That’s where our very eager waitress came in. She offered to recommend certain dishes that she thought we would like, and her offer was very well received. When she recommended the foie gras for a starter (NIS 69), I knew I was in good hands and didn’t need to hear any other suggestions.
The two very large pieces of goose liver were served on two massive slices of French bread, accompanied by fig and onion jam, as well as a poached quail egg and a slice of smoked goose liver. The word “rich” does not even come close to describing this dish, but “delicious” certainly does.
On a lighter note, the waitress recommended the shrimp skewers (NIS 46) for my friend. While the shrimps were well cooked, it was the asparagus cooked in garlic butter with coriander and Atlantic sea salt that really stole the show.
Instead of going for something a little less heavy for my main course, I just couldn’t resist it when the waitress recommended the fillet steak (NIS 128). While fillet steak is usually special enough on its own, it was the chestnut puree and mushroom and chestnut sauce that really grabbed my attention. Even though the steak was more medium well than the medium rare I had ordered, it didn’t really matter because every mouthful with the rich chestnut flavors made everything okay.
My friend ordered the meat feast (NIS 165), one of the only dishes that survived from the original menu. This is actually the dish that I ordered last time I visited and it’s understandable why it was not changed. The wooden plate stacked with layers of fillet steak, foie gras, kobe entrecote and smoked goose breast topped with an egg and held together by a mini dagger really has to be seen – and tasted – to be believed.
When it came to dessert, we asked for the lightest possible options, but even they were slightly rich and heavy. We shared the profiteroles (NIS 48) and the panna cotta (NIS 36).
Both were of a very high standard and tasted exactly as they should.
Although slightly on the pricy side, Charlotte is well worth a visit because the dishes provide value for money.
All are presented in unique and original ways, and the chef has taken care to make sure that they taste as good as they look. Set back from all the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s a great place to hide away on a lazy summer evening and enjoy great food and wine.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Charlotte, Not kosher 16 Rambam Street, Tel Aviv (03) 510-0995.
Open every day from noon until the last customer leaves.