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A Spanish Delight
By JASON MESKIN
07/06/2012
Vicky Cristina's wine bar may be the closest thing to Spain that Tel Aviv can get.
 
Here, in one of the most historical areas of Tel Aviv, old meets new, and Vicky Cristina embraces all of the Tahana’s magic. As soon as we entered, we knew the atmosphere would be amazing. With red and white checkered tablecloths, Spanish guitars and an open-air restaurant and bar, 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 Gaudi’s famous Park Goel 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 a sommelier, who talked us through the wine list with tasters. Our waiter was also very helpful, offering his suggestions.

Listening to the rhythmic beat of Spanish and Latin music, including flamenco, patrons can choose from more than 120 wines (including Spanish sparking wines) to complement the international medley of 30 different tapas divided into four categories: salads, meat, seafood and desserts. 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 Castille unless it was accompanied by something to eat.

The prices are reasonable; but since portions are small, 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 17) with a tomato puree, along with olives that had been marinated in lemon. Our starters began with the ensalada de esparragos (NIS 32) – asparagus and grilled vegetables with croutons and labane cheese – as well as the ensalada de escarola (NIS 28) – fresh endives with bouche cheese and smoked almonds. Both were delicious.

This was followed by the red tuna ceviche (NIS 36), which was a delicacy, both visually and tastewise – highly recommended. Next up were the excellent mini hamburgers (NIS 36) with french fries and spicy aioli.

Our main courses consisted of the trozos de filete (NIS 48). These thin slices of beef fillet served on crispy potatoes were moist, well seasoned and had a nice, juicy texture. The sliced sirloin (NIS 45), drizzled with port sauce, proved to be a big winner with everyone. It was the tastiest and most tender that I’ve eaten in recent memory. Compliments to the chef! We ordered hot drinks and took another breather. Then came dessert.

We opted for the heavenly decadent crembo de chocolate (NIS 34) – chocolate mousse and hazelnuts with salted caramel butter on a meringue base, as well as the churros (NIS 34), which is a traditional Spanish dessert.

Both were small but rich enough that a few bites sufficed to satisfy our sweet tooth.

I went to Vicky Cristina with pretty high expectations and, much to my surprise, they were met – perhaps even exceeded. We left very satisfied with what we’d eaten, what we’d seen and where we’d dined.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Vicky Cristina, tapas and wine bar Not kosher Building 7 at the Tachana complex 1 Koifman, Neveh Tzedek, Tel Aviv Open seven days a week from noon until the last customer. Tel: 057-944-4144
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