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Nocturnal nirvana
By GABRIELLA TZVIA WEINIGER
25/07/2013
For after-hours diners, Night Kitchen in Tel Aviv more than fills the bill.
 
They say that Tel Aviv is a 24- hour city, so it makes sense to create a restaurant that can keep up with the pace. Located in the heart of the city’s nightlife on Lilenblum Street, Night Kitchen does just that, with an eclectic yet rustic menu that keeps late-night diners on their toes.

Opened just over half a year ago, Night Kitchen is remarkably well put together, with a feeling of Romecum- New-York in its chic but relaxed atmosphere. Sitting at the bar, my dining companion and I were immediately served delicious cocktails to start, setting the tone for an evening of fine food, tequila shots and general debauchery.

The waiter was extremely helpful in helping us decide what to order, especially given my companion’s specific gluten-free instructions. We started with one of the specials; the papaya salad. Fresh and unique in its presentation and combination, it was a little heavy for a starter, with the cheese, nuts and cabbage giving a different flavor and texture with each bite. But it’s a great option for a main course. Other starters included the cheese picnic and the sausage picnic, served with warm, oven baked bread.

Next up was the tri-carpaccio salad, with beetroot, pumpkin, roasted tomato, eggplant, asparagus, Parmesan and celery foam (NIS 52).

A nice added touch was watching the chef beat the carpaccio from the open kitchen window.

The vibrant colors and textures were delicate and artistic in their presentation and flavour, my favourite being the beetroot, which was topped with yoghurt, herbs, spices and nuts. A delightful option for vegetarians and foodies alike.

Time for the wine, having polished off our cocktails. Each Israeli wine came with a story of the vineyard; I chose the Bravo Chardonnay (NIS 46/156), whose grapes date back to the time of Solomon. My companion tasted every red option they had, and I cannot for the life of me remember which one she settled with – perhaps a testament to how delicious they all were.

We ordered the calamari la planche next (NIS 58). The talented and rather adventurous chef, Yoav Bliman, explained to us that non- Israelis always find it strange to mix seafood with labane, but for him it was an obvious choice. Slightly Asian-inspired in its fusion of calamari, sweet fennel, yogurt and spinach, the dish was cooked to perfection and had a tasty, fresh and intense flavor.

But my favourite of the mains was the stone bass in fish stock and pastis, served with king oyster mushrooms, asparagus and carrots (NIS 76). This cannot come more highly recommended.

Writing this next part makes me realize how much food we actually ate. Next up was the hanger steak (180/360g – NIS 88/136) with baked potato, yam and sour cream.

Slow cooked to delicate perfection, the steak was tender and beautifully presented. Bliman really understands colors, as the deep purple of the steak complemented the orange and yellows of the potatoes.

The chef wanted us to try an option from the (even later) night menu, which caters to party goers who fancy heavy comfort food to settle their stomachs. We tried the sloppy Joe – ground beef bolognese and melted cheese served in bread with pickled veg (NIS 44). Not my favourite, but it certainly hit home with my American friend.

If sloppy Joes are my friend's domain, I will gladly take the desserts. Night Kitchen is supposed to hold its niche in late-night dining, but I haven't tasted such delectable desserts in some time. The candies (NIS 32) – three balls of tonka bean crème brûlée with fruit syrup – were not only fun to eat but also mouthwateringly sexy. The Mount Villa rica dessert (NIS 46), meanwhile, sought to replicate Chile's most active volcano, lake and town that it was based on. Consisting of a chocolate volcano over a cocoa base, truffles and crumble-covered vanilla ice cream served on a slate plate decorated with fresh flowers, it was not only a pleasure to look at, but each bite offered a different explosion of flavor.

I would highly recommend Night Kitchen before a night out on the town or for a sloppy Joe in the earlier, sloppier hours of the morning.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Night Kitchen
Not kosher
43 Lilenblum St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 566-0481
e-mail: reservations@nightkitchen.co.il
Menu: http://www.nightkitchen.co.il/#!menu/crl2
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