(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
From the outside, Mel and Michelle is very unassuming and can even be missed if
you don’t know it’s there. Stepping inside this small, intimate restaurant in
Tel Aviv, you would not necessarily know you were in an Italian eaterie. It is a
far cry from a large pizza joint with dozens of middle-aged waiters running
around with pizza and pasta. Pizza isn’t even on the menu. Mel and Michelle is
very understated but provides a sophisticated setting for some great
My friend and I sat at the bar, where we were served by a very
charming barman/waiter who made us feel very relaxed but maintained a
professional high standard throughout the evening.
We went for a bottle
of Chianti Classico 2008 from Tuscany (NIS 150), which was a great start to the
evening and complemented the house bread (NIS 12) very well. The texture of the
bread, which was served warm, was very similar to a British breakfast crumpet.
It was served with labane accompanied by eggplant caviar, as well as homemade
pesto, which were both delicious.
The bread was rather filling so when my
starter was actually quite a small portion, I was relieved. I had pan-fried
market fish served on a bed of corn puree with baby greens, pickled onions and
arugula pesto (NIS 62). The corn puree really made the dish and gave it a unique
flavor. The fish was well cooked and the skin was nice and crispy, just the way
I like it.
My friend opted for artichoke ravioli in garlic butter, yogurt
cheese and fresh zaatar (NIS 57). The creaminess of the yogurt cheese
complemented the texture of the ravioli and provided a great backdrop for the
strong taste of the artichoke.
In keeping with the small and intimate
theme of the restaurant, the menu at Mel and Michelle is rather limited. I
usually regard this as a good sign, as it shows that the chef is concentrating
on what he does best instead of trying to be too adventurous. Of the four main
course choices, there were only two options that I was interested in. After much
deliberation, I went for drunken veal with mozzarella in a lemon and Chardonnay
reduction (NIS 107). Again, the portion was not so big, but looking back it was
probably a good thing because it meant that we were not too full by the end of
main course. The veal was well cooked, but the lemon sauce was quite bland and
took a while to for me to appreciate the flavors.
In total contrast, my
friend ordered the tiger shrimp with tobiko caviar, lemon cream and rocket
leaves (NIS 118). The mound of shrimp looked impressive next to the caviar, and
the dish was tasty.
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I was a little disappointed by the side dishes. The
only choices were mashed potatoes or a green salad.
We ordered one of
each. The mashed potatoes were tasty enough, but there was nothing about the
salad to distinguish it from a regular salad found at any cafe.
that the side dishes were not so filling was good because we had plenty of room
for dessert, and this is where Mel and Michelle’s Italian theme comes to the
fore. I ordered tiramisu (NIS 38) and was not disappointed. It was a good-sized
portion and had just the right cream-to-biscuit ratio.
The second dessert
of panna cotta (NIS 32) had a great texture that was very dense. The small
serving of berry sauce around the side was subtle and added a little bitterness
to offset the sweet taste.
Although Mel and Michelle is not cheap, it
offers good value for money. It is a great place to take a loved one for an
intimate meal and enjoy some good-quality Italian food.
The writer was a
guest of the restaurant.
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