You go to some restaurants for the food; others, for the location. Gazpacho falls into both categories. Located right on the oceanfront in Ashkelon, you could hardly ask for a better setting for an enjoyable meal.
In this Mediterranean bistro, run by chef Guy Peretz, patrons are greeted by a welcoming ambience, modern decor and a spacious dining room. It’s clear that Peretz is a colorful character on the culinary scene, and he gives the impression of being someone who has dedicated his life to good food and wine. This was my second time dining there, and once again it did not disappoint.
The kosher menu is quite extensive, with a wide array of salads, pastas, fish and meat dishes.
We began our meal by trying the seared artichokes with pickled lemons, cayenne pepper, garlic and cilantro (NIS 42). This well-prepared and notably fresh beginning was accompanied by a warm loaf of nutty wheat bread, served on a wooden cutting board.
Being South African and having grown up with traditional sweet meat dishes such as babotie, I was pleasantly surprised by the Moroccan pastille (NIS 48).
Regarded as one of Peretz’s signature dishes, it consisted of a sweet, crispy Moroccan cigar filled with chunks of spring chicken, nuts, almonds and raisins with a hint of cardamom and ginger, served on a bed of cherry tomato and brandy jam. The blend of sweet and spicy ingredients was perfectly balanced, making it a delicious reminder of home.
For the main course, we had the entrecote served with roasted root vegetables (NIS 125). All was delicious. The meat was tender, melting in the mouth and easily sliced, with the side dishes providing excellent accompaniment.
This was followed by lamb tajine with dried fruit, cinnamon, date honey and onion jam (NIS 104). The sweet sauce was almost like a soup, and the flavors of all the elements in the dish blended together perfectly.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were presented with Rossini fillet (NIS 169), which consisted of grilled beef fillet medallions with a slice of fine foie gras, wine and fig sauce on a root vegetable cream. On the one hand, I really liked the sauce and wanted to smother the meat with it. On the other, the meat tasted so good that I wanted to savor its individual flavor.
The mashed vegetable side was superb.
After a bit of a breather, it was on to dessert. This consisted of halva kadaif (NIS 42) and a Belgian chocolate soufflé in chocolate sauce and Italian espresso (NIS 42).
Both were equally deliciously decadent.
If you are looking for an elegant night out, Gazpacho is a solid choice. The food is high-end ordinary fare, served with style.
Don’t expect adventure or exotic foods you haven’t tried before, but do expect food you know – and expect it to taste great.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Gazpacho Kosher Holiday Inn, 9 Yekutiel Adam Street, Ashkelon Tel: (08) 674-8886.
Open Sunday-Thursday from noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday night until 11:30 p.m.