Just like a fashion brand, trendy Tel Aviv restaurant Clementine has reinvented itself for the fall-winter season. To coincide with a full makeover of the interior and exterior, Clementine recently launched a new menu for the new, cooler season that is upon us.
It’s hard to judge a restaurant without discussing its appearance, and Clementine has a lot going for it in the looks department. My dining partner and I really liked the modern, fresh interior, but it was the large open terrace at the front of the restaurant that really grabbed our attention, and that’s where we decided to sit. Unlike many other similar restaurants and coffee shops in Tel Aviv, the outdoor dining area is located away from the street behind some small trees, creating a certain level of intimacy and serenity away from the busy streets of the big city.
For a restaurant to look good is important but, as with most things in life, looks aren’t everything.
Thankfully, Clementine has substance as well as style.
For one thing, the wait staff was excellent. Clementine is a laid-back place, and our waitress for the evening fitted in perfectly with the vibe, as she was attentive but not overbearing.
As part of the makeover, the beverage menu was also revamped to offer a range of different alcoholic drinks at very reasonable prices. With prices such as NIS 18 for a half liter of Goldstar and cocktails starting from NIS 20, Clementine is very good value compared with many similar places in Tel Aviv.
To start the meal, we shared a selection of three dishes, the first of which was beetroot vegetable salad (NIS 34) with yogurt and Parmesan cheese. It was quite a simple combination but well executed and full of flavor. Next, we had seared eggplant with raw tehina, yogurt and hot pepper (NIS 34). As a big fan of eggplant and tehina, I have very high standards, and I wasn’t disappointed, as the eggplant had just the right smoky taste, and the hot pepper gave it an extra kick.
Sardines are not usually something I would order in a restaurant, but the waitress convinced us that they were worth tasting. She was right. The third starter of sardines steeped in olive oil, slices of sourdough bread, sour cream and fresh vegetables (NIS 39) made a refreshing change to the usual starters found in such places.
The high-quality sardines from Spain, which were presented in the original tin, were excellent, especially when dipped in the fresh sour cream.
For main course, I opted for a special that isn’t featured on the menu. My sea bass fillet on a potato rosti served with yogurt (NIS 79) was a good, all-round dish. The fish was well cooked, and the rosti was nice and crispy. It tasted even better when dipped in the yogurt.
My dining companion decided on the mushroom pasta (NIS 62), consisting of five types of mushrooms wrapped in olive oil, garlic, truffle and Parmesan Reggiano. As well as being well presented, the dish was very tasty, and we were able to distinguish among the strong flavors of the different mushrooms.
We chose to end the meal with a big slice of chocolate banana cake (NIS 32), as it was the most inspiring option from the limited dessert menu. The banana taste was slightly overpowering, but I didn’t mind because I love bananas, and it made a change from the regular chocolate desserts on offer that tend to be very rich.
On paper, Clementine is just another high-end coffee shop in central Tel Aviv, but in practice, it’s much more than that. With a beautiful design, competitive alcohol prices and an innovative menu to match, it’s one to look out for in the coming fall-winter season.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Clementine
75 Ben-Gurion Boulevard, Tel Aviv (03) 523-3194
Sunday to Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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