(photo credit: Courtesy)
It might sound like a cliché, but from the moment you walk into Gillis Beef, it is a completely different dining experience. Situated on Moshav Nov in the southern Golan Heights, Gillis is primarily a cattle farm and butcher. The family-run business originally expanded to offer workshops on preparing and cooking kosher beef, which eventually led to opening to the public on Thursday evenings.
Even though it functions as a restaurant one night a week, owner Yossi Gillis and his family still treat every customer as if they were a guest in their home. The large barn holds 130 people for private events and 80 as a restaurant, and all the meat is cooked in an open kitchen. None of the cooks are trained chefs; the griller who cooked for us is a dairy farmer by day, which makes the high quality of the food all the more incredible.
The one thing they all have in common is a love and knowledge of cows, from the field to the plate. If you’re lucky, you may have a chance to see some of the cows grazing in the farm behind the restaurant.
To maximize the dining experience, there are three set menus to choose from: NIS 158 for the Regular tasting menu; NIS 215 for the Gillis tasting menu; and NIS 238 for the Just Beef tasting menu.
Of course, we decided to go all out with the Just Beef menu. We started our meal with humous with shredded meat. The slow-braised meat was rich and tasty, and we had to stop ourselves from finishing the dish because we knew this was the first of seven courses.
The second course of roasted eggplant with ground beef and tehina was served with a selection of fresh salads, which were all light and flavorful and a perfect addition to the heavy meal. Next came the juiciest burger I have ever tasted, simply seared on both sides and served without a bun so as not to waste the appetite.
Our meal was interrupted by an additional dish, as Yossi and his son Reuven went from table to table carving paper-thin slices of rosemary roasted sirloin.
This was followed by a sirloin roll with chimichurri, a grilled entrecote steak and a grilled filet steak, each one better than the other. There is a lot of talk about the quality of homegrown Israeli beef versus the imported South American beef served in many kosher restaurants across the country, but one bite of steak at Gillis settled the argument for me. Both steaks were served straight from the grill with no accompaniment or sauce because they didn’t need it. I can safely say that they were among the best steaks I have had in my life. The meat itself was so juicy and full of taste and didn’t need anything else to enhance it.
If you don’t want the full meat feast, there is the option to order individual dishes from the menu.
Each main course comes with an appetizer, side dishes, hot and cold drinks and dessert (minimum charge of NIS 80 per person). We tried the spring chicken (NIS 96), which was also succulent and well spiced. For non-meat eaters, there is salmon (NIS 96).
We drank a delightful bottle of Galil Mountain Wine with Friends 2009 (NIS 135/bottle), a light blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, which was the perfect complement to such a delicious meal. We also tried two varieties of beer from the local Golan brewery. I favored the ale (NIS 24/330 ml), which was smooth with a subtle sweetness, while my companion preferred the heavier double bock (NIS 27/330 ml).
Truthfully, I cannot fault anything about the meal, the service or the entire experience we had at Gillis Beef, and I am already hoping to return soon.
There is also the option to enjoy the beef at home, as Gillis delivers all over the country for a minimum of five kilos an order.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Gillis Beef Kosher Moshav Nov, Golan Heights (04) 676-3555 www.gillis.co.il Thursday, 6 p.m. until last customer Workshops and private events any time with advanced booking.