What used to be L’Entrecote in Herzliya Pituah has transformed itself into Bistro W. The same building, the same owners, the same French atmosphere – but the décor and the menu have been changed to make it more accessible and homey, hence the name Bistro, which tends to signify an informal eating place as opposed to a restaurant.
If you go out to eat at a restaurant, you feel you have to dress up, while at a bistro you can throw on a pair of jeans and feel comfortable. This was the ambience the owners tried to create when they took away the crisp linen tablecloths that they felt frightened people off, made the bar smaller and less glitzy and totally revamped the décor.
The walls are covered in hundreds of wine box lids, which are original, laser-carved and brought from France. Prints and photos of Parisian scenes help to create the Gallic ambience, as well as blackboards on the walls with wines listed in chalk and rustic lanterns overhead.
The manager, Michael Attias, who also ran L’Entrecote, says that in the former restaurant there was no main dish under NIS 100, but in its new format they can offer main dishes for NIS 60.
The “W” in the name stands for “wine,” and at Bistro W there is a great emphasis on wine, which can be ordered by the glass thanks to a revolutionary system the manager says is unique in Israel.
“We have invested in this new method that allows us to open a bottle and keep it for as long as a month, selling it by the glass. We are the first people in Israel to use this method, although it has been going in the US for some time. It means people can try really good wines without having to buy a whole bottle,” says Attias.
The emphasis on wine is also thanks to a new partner who joined the enterprise recently, Olivier Arfi, a Parisian now living in Israel who owns vineyards near Beit Shemesh and produces his own wine.
And so to the meal. Of the many attractive starters on the menu, I opted for the red mullet crostini, which was accompanied by saffron aioli, capers, spicy tomato sauce and green leaves (NIS 49). The dish, which consisted of six lightly sautéed barbunia fillets and toasted brioche, was substantial enough for a main course. The fish was very fresh, although the aioli did not live up to its name, being more mayonnaise than garlic. My companion’s goose liver (NIS 99) was pronounced excellent, especially with the pear chutney garnish, which complemented the liver. Other starters on offer were fried mushrooms (NIS 32), chicken liver pâté (NIS 39) and salmon ceviche (NIS 59).
For the main course, we sampled the Black Angus entrecote with pepper sauce (NIS 136), which my companion assured me was delicious. My dish of duck with fruit confit (NIS 89) was succulent and extremely generous, with two quarters of the bird served with the sweet sauce and a cooked pear on the side. The accompanying antipasti came in the form of chunks of roasted sweet potato, regular potato and zucchini. I felt they could have benefited from being cut into smaller sizes.
When it came to dessert, I’m afraid I fell into the trap of believing the purple prose of the menu, which offered the enticingly named “cool coconut soup – a heavenly combination of coconuts and fruit with honey and dates” (NIS 38).
When the dish arrived, it looked like – and probably was – canned coconut cream poured lavishly over some chopped fruit. After tasting this saturated fat-laden dish, I asked the waitress to change it. In its stead, she brought me caramelized apple pie (NIS 42), which was as delicious as the previous dish had been inedible: a minimal dough base topped with melt-in-themouth baked apple slices topped with a caramel sauce. My only complaint was that the promised vanilla ice cream was not available so they substituted chocolate ice cream, which did not go as well with the pie.
Bistro W is open for business lunches, starting at NIS 39. They also have a private room that can accommodate up to 24 people. The bistro itself can hold 100 people, and they are planning bar events on several days in the month starting at 10 p.m. with a special lighter menu and live music. They have also redecorated the outside, creating a garden which in the summer will have tables set up where patrons can listen to live jazz, as well as enjoy a lavish kosher meal.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Bistro W (Kosher)
14 Shenkar St., Herzliya Pituah
Tel: (09) 951-4509
Sunday – Thursday, noon to last customer.
Friday 11:30 a.m. until 1 hour before Shabbat.
Saturday night, an hour and a half after Shabbat ends.