Vicky Cristina restaurant.
(photo credit: PR)
Having dined here a few times before, I knew the atmosphere would be amazing. With red and white checkered tablecloths, Spanish music and an open-air restaurant and bar. (The majority of it is enclosed for winter, we felt as if we’d been transported to Spain.) The spacious courtyard, shaded by ficus trees that have stood there for more than a century, is divided into two sections. On one side is Vicky, the tapas restaurant that opens in the afternoon hours.
Cristina, the wine bar, takes up the other side of the patio and features sculpted mosaic bars inspired by Antoni Gaudí’s famous Park Güell in Barcelona. Both places offer the same menu, but the difference is in the atmosphere.
The service was first class, as we were immediately greeted by our waiter, who talked us through the new “Hot Latin” menu as well as the wine list with tasters.
Listening to the rhythmic beat of Spanish and Latin music, including flamenco, patrons can choose from more than 120 wines (including Spanish sparkling wines) to complement the international medley of 30 tapas divided into salads, meat, seafood and dessert. There is a new section called Latino tapas that includes tortillas, burritos, quesadillas as well as Cuban sausage.
Legend has it that tapas were born when King Alfonso X took sick and mixed wine with small bites of food between meals. Once he recovered, the king ordered that no wine be served in Castile unless it was accompanied by something to eat.
The prices are reasonable; however, portions are small, so you may run up a bigger bill than you expect (about three or four plates per person if you’re hungry).
While waiting for our dinner, we were served fresh bread (NIS 18) with a tomato puree, along with olives that had been marinated in lemon. Our starters began with the queso frito (NIS 33) – crispy fried goat cheese served on onion marmalade with tomato and pepper sauce – as well as the esparragos a la plancha (NIS 37) – grilled asparagus in grilled eggplant cream and smoked almonds. Both were delicious.
This was followed by the salmon a la plancha (NIS 46), which was a delicacy, both visually and tastewise – the seared salmon together with garlic cream and truffle honey was a bit crispy on the outside, buttery and tender on the inside.
Next up were the excellent mini hamburgers (NIS 16) with garlic aioli, sweet onions and cheddar cheese. I‘m all for savoring and taking small bites of my food, but I gobbled that up in two bites! It’s so good. The patty was cooked at a perfect medium and the buns were nicely toasted.
In between, we enjoyed two glasses (NIS 33 per glass) of Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer from Germany, which had enough fruit, body and sweetness to complement the complex flavors, textures and oils of the dishes.
Our main courses consisted of filete de carne (NIS 48) – grilled beef fillet served on cauliflower cream, with red wine and ground black pepper sauce. The beef was tender and perfectly cooked to medium and it went well with the sauce and the puree. This was followed by the sinta con polenta (NIS 47) – sirloin on sweet corn polenta and mint pepper chimichurri. Once again the meat was very tender, easily cut with a single draw of the knife, no additional salt/pepper was really needed.
We ordered hot drinks and took another breather. Then came dessert. We opted for the heavenly decadent chocolate mousse cake as well as the churros, which is a traditional Spanish dessert. Both were relatively small, but rich enough that a few bites sufficed to satisfy our sweet tooth.
I went to Vicky Cristina with pretty high expectations and, once again, they were met – perhaps even exceeded. We left very satisfied with what we’d eaten, what we’d seen and where we’d dined.
Vicky Cristina Not kosher Building 7 at the Tahana complex 1 Koifman, Neveh Tzedek, Tel Aviv (03) 736-7272 The writer was a guest of the restaurant.