Hanamal 24 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you walk down Haifa’s Old Port, you’d never guess that in one of those old colonial barn buildings, behind a small metal door and up a small staircase, a gastronomic experience awaits. Originally constructed by famed architect Nathan Feibish as a gallery to showcase his skills in Tuscan style design, Hanamal 24 has a unique interior design.
Soon after he finished designing the place, Feibish felt that it was empty and wanted to fill it with sounds of joy and laughter. So he approached Guy Avital, the owner of the Recital café in Haifa’s Danya neighborhood.
Avital never thought of opening another restaurant, but it took no more than one look at Feibish’s gallery to change his mind. He contacted executive chef Ran Rosh, and together they bought the gallery and created a very different kind of restaurant that many label the culinary jewel of the North.
An inviting atmosphere envelops you the moment you enter the place – from the warm greeting of the hostess and the soft jazzy strains to the warm lighting and splendid Tuscan interior. There are several dining rooms – some private or semi-private, some with their own wine cellar and others with large family tables. These are all designed to make you forget the outside world and relax.
Once we sat down, we were served a glass of the house wine, Hanamal 24 Blend, and a tasty amuse-bouche of creamy onion soup, whipped truffle cream, shrimps and bok choy leaves. The house wine is made for the restaurant by a small winery called Vitkin, and we enjoyed it throughout our meal. For wine lovers, the fairly sizable wine list includes wines from small local wineries, as well as imported ones.
While perusing the menu, we were served irresistible rosemary grissini along with dips of smoked eggplant, lemony pepper and herb aioli (NIS 3 per person).
For starters, we had the beef carpaccio (NIS 52), the red drum and salmon ceviche (NIS 51) and the coquilles St. Jacques over olive polenta (NIS 63). The beef carpaccio was tastefully served with fresh fruit and caramelized garlic, and the scallops were simply heavenly. The ceviche was no less than a celebration of flavors, combining raw red drum fish, salmon, guacamole, poached egg, lobster salad and beet coffee cream.
For the entrées, we had three dishes: a trio of lamb fillet, sirloin and liver on chestnut puree; fillet of European sea bass in a Tomme cheese crust and coquilles St Jacques wrapped in pancetta (NIS 129); and calamari filled with mushroom duxelle, thyme gnocchi, lobster- Parmesan sauce and foie-gras flakes (NIS 98). All the dishes were rich, sophisticated and complex, sometime too complex. The calamari was made to perfection, as well as the fish, and each variation of the lamb was cooked differently and all were tender.
It was clear that each dish was created with much attention and each ingredient carefully chosen.
Speaking to head chef and co-owner Ran Rosh, we learned that he is a graduate of the Paul Bocuse cooking school in Lyon and that he has extensive experience in the French cuisine. He worked at La Belle Otero in Cannes, after which he was the head chef at Au Gré des Saisons on the outskirts of Paris. Well, that explains it.
We had one dessert – a ball of superior Valrhona chocolate filled with nut crumble, fruit, vanilla cream and jasmine ganache (NIS 43), which was divine.
The staff was helpful and friendly, the portions were of a good size, and meticulous attention was put into each dish.
Vegetarian dishes are offered, as well as dishes for the young and those with special requests. In addition, the restaurant offers a lunch menu Monday to Friday, noon to 5 p.m., as well as a special evening menu that includes a starter, a main course and a dessert for NIS 149. The meal was definitely a visit to the restaurant, and I’m sure I will visit there again soon.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Hanamal 24 Not kosher 24 Hanamal Street, Haifa (04) 862-6677 Mon – Sat, noon to midnight.Business lunch noon – 5 p.m.The restaurant is closed on Sundays.