Olive Leaf is known throughout Tel Aviv for its consistent style and high quality. It is a favorite among many locals and visitors who are looking for a place where they can enjoy a fine kosher dining experience. With its seasonal dishes, this popular enclave in the Tel Aviv Sheraton takes dining to a whole new level. The restaurant exudes charm, and it’s clear that chef Charlie Fadida is not just creating a restaurant but a destination, with regulars who come in as much for the warmth and friendship as for the food. The place has a peaceful feel, with carpeting, a wood-and-blue theme and a large window overlooking the Tel Aviv promenade at one end.
Fadida wanted my dining companion and me to get a good understanding of what the restaurant has to offer, so after we provided a little guidance as to our likes and dislikes, we were brought a parade of tastes. The menu offers a little bit of every major kosher meat group, as well as fish and vegetarian options. What ties them all together is the quality of the food, which is based on what’s in season. The tasty dishes are complemented by the finest selection of Israeli wines, both local and international.
After nibbling on some fresh crispy whole grain bread, cilantro pesto, black olives and garlic confit, it was time to order our appetizers. We started our meal with a wonderfully fresh beetroot carpaccio (NIS 55) – paper-thin slices of red beets marinated in apple vinegar, brown sugar and date honey, served with apple and celery julienne in hazelnut vinaigrette. An absolute must-eat dish, it titillated our senses, leaving us giddy for what was to come. Next up was beef carpaccio (NIS 64). The infusion of roasted peppers and garlic fries helped complement the subtle texture and flavors of the raw meat, which we greatly enjoyed. The sweetbreads appetizer (NIS 68), accompanied by sautéed homemade gnocchi, was also very good.
After a bit of a breather, we moved on to the main dishes. First up was pan seared mullard breast (NIS 80), glazed in a classic orange sauce and garnished with fresh citrus fruit. It was absolutely delicious. The meat was soft, tender and the interesting pairing of the fruit complimented the strong flavor of the meat. This was followed by organic chicken (NIS 80), which was seasoned beautifully and grilled to perfection on a bed of creamy corn sauce with a touch of truffles, snow peas and corn. From here I was expecting dessert, but to my surprise we were served roasted beef fillet with porcini mushroom sauce (NIS 145). Being South African, I was now a very happy diner. It was fantastic. The meat tasted like meat, the portion was more than large enough, and I had to force myself to stop eating once I was full. It was so delicious and enticing that I wanted to keep eating past my abilities.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was dessert. Rarely does one rave about Parve confections, but here I go: The crispy meringue (NIS 39) was fantastic. But I think the winner was the chocolate volcano (NIS 39). The chocolate was dark and slightly bitter, eschewing the usual over-the-top sweetness found in other incarnations. And, it was perfectly cooked, oozing chocolaty goodness from its molten center. Even though we had eaten far too much already, we strove valiantly to finish this rich cocoa creation.
In all, the outing was a hit. It’s encouraging to see chefs tackling the kosher scene with creativity and skill. Not only is the food of the highest quality, but the wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and their smiles are genuine. They really seem to enjoy their work. So when you’re looking to combine gourmet food and an elegant atmosphere with nearly faultless service, you’ll find that Olive Leaf has it covered.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
The Olive Leaf Kosher 115
Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv