At the King Solomon Restaurant in the Tel Aviv Hilton, you could imagine you were in that magical world of Hutz la’aretz – abroad. Soft, kind lighting, golden damask tablecloths, a rich carpet underfoot; waiters who don’t try to be your new best friend; quiet surroundings and an English menu with no errors.
Sitting down to a taste of the new menu that was launched on July 1 one evening, we felt we were in for a memorable meal, and indeed it was.
Perusing the aforementioned perfect menu, it was difficult to choose, as there were so many starters and main courses on offer. Luckily, the maître d’ suggested we sample small portions of several, as well as our main choices.
While we were trying to choose a wine from the extensive wine list of all-Israeli wines, two tiny amusebouches arrived at the table – a sample of the pate de foie gras with homemade walnut bread, a yummy foretaste of what was to come.
We also had three dips for the crusty whole grain rolls – fruity olive oil with a slash of balsamic vinegar, creamy homemade tehina and a rich tomato tapenade.
One of the major innovations this summer at the Hilton is the return of blue-fin tuna, which is served as the first course, tuna tataki. The food and beverage manager, Vered, came over to explain that they had stopped serving tuna for a time, as they thought it was going to be extinct, but the dish is now reinstated.
The dish (NIS 47.50) consists of slices of seared but rare tuna with cellophane noodles, pickled carrot and a garlic and wasabi sauce. The combination of tastes, colors and textures made for a perfect starter.
My companion had the escalope of foie gras (NIS 105), a large piece of chunky pâté, crumbed and deep fried, which came with cinnamon and orange churros, a delicious orangeflavored crispy sweet meat, all this served on a bed of pureed smoked pumpkin. It was all melt-in-yourmouth delicious.
We were also served a single duckfilled ravioli that looked like a flying saucer, served with a sweet black raisin sauce.
My official starter was ceviche of minted sea bream and diced salad (NIS 52). It was absolutely fresh and a very pretty dish, decorated with a red micro leaf of basil and avocado sauce.
In fact, top marks for presentation of all the dishes.
We also tried a coffee cup thimble of the green onion soup (NIS 27.50), which was good but probably more welcome on a cold winter’s day.
For the main course, my companion chose the lamb chops – four meaty and succulent pieces set in a ring of mushrooms and courgettes.(NIS 209). It came with a latke-like potato rosti full of onion – crispy outside and soft within as it should be.
I had the Cornish hen (NIS 105), which was tasty but quite conventional, although I loved the accompanying grilled vegetables, especially the skinned tomato. We shared a chef’s salad (NIS 46), which contained fennel, beet and roasted apple slices and was quite unusual.
Other main course choices are the vegetarian one – semolina dumplings stuffed with pumpkin, tomato sauce and green peas (NIS 66.50) – grouper (NIS 71) and fillet of red snapper (NIS 185). These are new additions to the menu; as well as all kinds of grilled steaks.
The wine to accompany this sumptuous meal was a half-bottle of Golan Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon (NIS 165), which complements everything – a wine that is all things to all food.
Forcing ourselves to sample dessert in the name of journalistic integrity, we tried the chocolate trio (NIS 52), a very aesthetic collection of mercifully small mousses and marquises. We were brought a selection of petits fours (NIS 38). Some of these dainty almond biscuits were a rather offputting shade of green, but that is a nit-picking complaint – they tasted good.
We got up and staggered into the night with full stomachs, great memories and idiotic smiles on our faces. Compliments to executive chef Avigdor Brueh on a job very well done.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
King Solomon Restaurant (Kosher), Tel Aviv Hilton, Tel Aviv.