(photo credit: Courtesy)
With Tel Aviv filled to the brim with generic coffee shop chains, it’s hard to
differentiate between them and find something special. This was always my
attitude until I was lucky enough to check out Espresso Bar Mandarin at the
Mandarin Hotel on Hatzuk Beach in north Tel Aviv. While Espresso Bar is one of
the chains that I actually prefer the most, this particular branch offers an
Italian menu that singles it out from the rest.
While we were intending
to sample the new winter menu that is available at all Espresso Bar chains
throughout the country, we decided to order from the Italian menu that is
specific to this branch. It’s not that the winter menu wasn’t inviting and
didn’t have endless options, it’s just that the selection of warming pasta
dishes looked too good to pass up on a chilly winter’s evening.
most branches of Espresso Bar are modern and well designed, this particular
branch has a certain flair and sophistication that differentiates
When it came to the food, I did something that I rarely do. I
left the decision-making of what to order up to the very friendly and
knowledgeable waiter. We left everything up to him, from wine to dessert, and we
were not disappointed.
For starters, we shared bruschetta (NIS 30) with a
mix of toppings that included fresh tomatoes and smoked eggplant with feta
cheese, as well as ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta served with garlic
butter sauce (NIS 32). While the tomato topping was rather average, the smoked
eggplant with feta was simply delicious. The portion size was perfect and was a
great option for sharing.
The starter that really stole the show for me
was the ravioli. Again, the portion size was just right and lent itself very
well to sharing. This was a very simple dish, but the freshness of the
ingredients shone through, and we both found ourselves using the bread from the
bruschetta to sop up the sauce.
For the main course I went for tortellini
with tomatoes, black olives, smoked eggplant, feta cheese and oregano (NIS 64).
I don’t usually order pasta in a restaurant because I always say it is one of
those things that you can make at home. If only I was able to make pasta that
tasted like this at home! The overriding taste of the smoked eggplant was
dominant but was complemented by the other ingredients.
My friend went
for tagliatelle with minced beef (NIS 66). I am not usually a big fan of meat
with pasta, but this dish outdid itself with fresh flavors and interesting
One thing that I noticed about both our pasta dishes was that
they remained hot throughout the meal.
Usually after a couple of
mouthfuls, the pasta is at best lukewarm, but in this instance I even commented
to the waiter how pleasant it was to enjoy the pasta at the right temperature
throughout the meal.
By the time dessert came around, we were pretty full
but our waiter convinced us to try the tiramsu (NIS 36). We did not regret the
decision for a second. This modern take on the Italian classic was very well
presented and had just the right balance of coffee flavor and creamy
Espresso Bar at the Mandarin Hotel is part of a coffee shop
chain, but don’t let that put you off. Once inside, you could believe that you
are in an upmarket Italian restaurant with some of the freshest and tastiest
dishes around. While it is a little more expensive than the average coffee shop,
it offers very good value for money and a complete dining experience all
round.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Espresso Bar Mandarin Not
kosher 21 Yonitzman Street Mandarin Hotel, Hatzuk Beach, Tel Aviv Open Sunday
to Saturday, 8 a.m. to midnight