Mondays with Roshfeld

Chef Jonathan Roshfeld holds Monday night seafood extravaganzas at his tapas bar.

Tapas Ahad Haam 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tapas Ahad Haam 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Walk into Tapas Ahad Ha’am on any night of the week and you’ll be greeted by a delightful blend of aromas, sights, bursts of laughter and music which, together with the colorful setting, make it one of Tel Aviv’s happiest hangouts. But Monday nights are even more special, as celebrity chef Jonathan Roshfeld hosts a seafood extravaganza.
Everything about Tapas Ahad Ha’am is pleasing: old-fashioned ceramic tiles on the floors and walls, food displays at the entrance – baskets of vegetables and bowls filled with olives, suspended country sausages and cans of Spanish anchovies – enough to get your juices going even before you reach your table. The lighting is clever: light enough to see what you’re eating, but dark enough to get you in the mood for partying.
The energy is that of a non-stop Spanish fiesta. The staff seem to be trained as party organizers, and the non-stop array of tapas make it the perfect spot for celebrations.
In the heart of the large and bustling space is a glass-walled kitchen that allows diners to have a sneak peek at what’s cooking.
There is a very long bar that surrounds the kitchen and is probably the best place to sit. The tables, small and wooden, are arranged along the walls, and two raised bar-like seating areas are perfect for large groups, where you find yourself sitting next to strangers who may well become your new best friends as the evening progresses and drinks are consumed.
The service is upfront and quick, and when the bell rings to announce that new tapas are coming out of the kitchen, the dishes are greeted with cheers from staff and diners alike. And they keep coming. Since it is impossible to try everything, you’re left wondering what you missed.
All in all, it is a show, and the food is but one of the components – but oh, such a good one. We were there for the first in a series of Fish and Seafood Monday nights.
As it was the first, many of the guests were celebrities, including many of Roshfeld’s colleagues who left their respective restaurants to come and taste his cooking. And what cooking it was! On these Monday seafood nights the talented chef – one of Israel’s finest – creates various delicacies such as Thai lobster tail in Massaman sauce; shrimp and okra in yogurt and fried mint; ceviche that is spicy but in a gentle, intriguing way; and various calamari and clam dishes from cuisines that vary from Asian to Middle Eastern.
On this celebrity-studded night, all the waiters were dressed as sailors in striped shirts and caps to accentuate the marine theme, and drinks were poured very generously, including sangria, the house cocktails and, of course, glasses of Cava.
I will not go into detail because almost all the dishes were superb, and we tasted so many different things that’s it hard to remember. The dishes vary from week to week, depending on what the fishermen bring and the seafood suppliers fly in, but you can be quite certain that there will not be many disappointments no matter what is served. Every day is the catch of the day.
Spanish and local wines are offered by the glass or bottle. We had a couple of Cava glasses and continued with Spanish whites.
When it was time for dessert and coffee, we opted for a classic chocolate eclair and some rich vanilla ice cream topped with a sauce of red berries. Both were scrumptious. Ending the dinner with something simple yet rich was the perfect complement to the tapas meal.
Sail to Tapas Ahad Ha’am next Monday – it’s worth its salt.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Tapas Ahad Ha'am Not kosher 27 Ahad Ha’am Street, Tel Aviv Tel (03) 566-6966 Chef’s night: Mondays from 6 p.m.