When my friend and I walked into the Belle & Antoine Parisian-style bistro in Tel Aviv, we were transported to a relaxed and intimate restaurant/wine bar, complete with original design features.
The bistro is the brainchild of brothers Eyal and Almog Dobinsky, who achieved success with their trendy wine bar Juno in Milano Square. The name Belle & Antoine was inspired by a French couple who host the brothers when they visit Paris and show them around the city.
With its distinctive Parisian design, we felt as if we could be sitting close to the river Seine, never mind the Yarkon. Perhaps the most distinguishing design feature is the ceiling, which is covered with an eclectic mix of mirrors. A vast collection of old wine bottles and containers finishes off the authentic look of the place. While not a huge restaurant, there are several seating options – at the bar, inside or outside.
The wine list is extensive and includes a large range of Israeli and imported wines. We opted for a bottle of French Gewürztraminer (NIS 135), as recommended by our friendly waitress. Not only was the wine of a high standard, the whole wine drinking experience was taken up a notch when the waitress brought a free-standing cooler filled with ice and placed it next to the table. This is worth a mention because there are very few restaurants in Tel Aviv that go to the trouble of bringing over a cooler, let alone off the table to provide diners with more space for their food.
When we first looked at the menu, it seemed rather limited.
It’s divided into different sections such as salads, sandwiches, crostinis and main dishes, with about five options in each section.
After reading the menu in more detail, however, we quickly learned that the focus is more on quality than quantity, and there were some very interesting dishes on offer.
For starters, we shared the smoked salmon crostini (NIS 38) with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, snow peas and poached egg. It was lucky that we decided in advance to share because the portion was much bigger than expected, especially in relation to the price. It was a case of quality matching quantity in this dish, with all the flavors working well together and the snow peas adding some extra crunch.
For the main course, I ordered risotto with green beans, sweet potato, shallots, cream cheese and white wine (NIS 48). The portion was just the right size and offered great value for money. It was rich and creamy, with the sweet potato and shallots making it sweeter than the average risotto.
My friend went for shrimps with butter, garlic, white wine, roasted tomatoes and snow peas (NIS 76).
The dish didn’t come with a side, but the shrimps held their own on the large plate, which was dominated by the tomatoes and those good old snow peas.
After the starter and mains we were relatively full, so we sat back, relaxed and finished off the excellent wine. The waitress must have sensed after a while that we were interested in dessert because even before we had a chance to ask for the dessert menu, she brought over a glass filled with crème pâtissière with crumbled meringue and fresh strawberries (NIS 34). The relatively light dessert was a good way to end the meal. It contained some fruit, which made us feel a little better for splurging on the calories.
With good value, an innovative menu and an intimate setting, Belle & Antoine is a great choice for anyone looking for a slice of Paris in the heart of Tel Aviv.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Belle & Antoine
Not kosher 196 Ben-Yehuda, Tel Aviv
Open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
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