Le Relais 311.
(photo credit: courtesy)
On our way to Le Relais Jaffa, my companion and I noted that the location was a little uninviting and really is somewhere that you have to know about in advance. It is not located in the old city of Jaffa nor in the up-and-coming area near the flea market. Instead, it sits just off the main road, tucked behind the Noga Theater. But don’t let the uninteresting exterior be a deterrent because once we walked through the doors, we were transported to an elegant Moroccanthemed dining room.
We were greeted by a very charming man who showed us to our perfectly laid table. The service was very traditional, old-fashioned even, and was kept to a high standard throughout the meal.
The menu at Le Relais is classic French with a Moroccan twist. It is not the most extensive menu, with about seven starters and seven main courses. I usually see this is a big positive because it means that the kitchen can concentrate on really preparing the select few dishes to the highest quality possible without becoming overwhelmed by a large complicated menu. At Le Relais, this works to their advantage because it is obvious that all the dishes are prepared with care and attention, and that is represented in the presentation and, most importantly, the delicious taste of the food.
To start with, I had a basil-infused sauteed mushroom tart (NIS 39), which was full of flavor. My only complaint would be that I finished it too quickly, so I wasn’t able to savor the fresh taste and great mix of flavors.
I don’t like to admit it – and it does happen to me quite often when I
go out to eat – but I did get food envy when I saw what my companion
ordered. The goose liver pate served with grilled tomato on a crispy
base with Cointreau sauce (NIS 39) looked amazing. The liver’s strong,
rich flavor was complemented very well by the orange flavor of the
liqueur. There was perhaps a little too much tomato for me. and that
took away a little from the taste of the goose, but the slightly crispy
base made up for it.
For the main course I was able to satisfy my craving for goose by
ordering goose confit served with date sauce, accompanied by roasted
potatoes and vegetables (NIS 99).
Let’s just say that after eating this, I was no longer quite so envious of not having ordered goose for my starter.
For someone with a sweet tooth, the date sauce made a great addition to
the crisp-skinned goose. I was a little uninspired by the vegetables and
potatoes, but the well-cooked meat made the dish more than edible.
My companion ordered entrecote steak (NIS 109), which was cooked
beautifully and had just the right amount of seasoning not to be
overpowering. People say that kosher steaks are never quite as good as
nonkosher ones because of the different cuts and the fact that the
koshering process can affect the meat, but the owner of the restaurant
told us herself that she only orders from the very best meat supplier
and is willing to pay accordingly for great quality. I must say that it
was one of the best kosher steaks I have ever eaten. Again, the dish was
served with the same vegetables and roast potatoes, which were tasty
but didn’t add much to the great taste of the meat.
The large portions meant that we were both pretty full, but there was no
way we were going to give up on dessert. My grandma always told me as a
child that there is a separate tube specially for dessert – and I still
believe her. Now that I live in the Middle East, whenever I see halva
on the menu I nearly always have to order it. So when I saw halva
parfait (NIS 29), I just knew I had to try it. It was served with
caramel cream just to add a little more sweetness. It was very smooth,
and I am always impressed when kosher desserts manage to hide the fact
they are indeed parve. So many times the artificial taste of the dairy
supplement comes through, but with this dessert the strong unique halva
taste was the main focus and the sauce a very good accompaniment.
If it were up to me, I would have ordered all the desserts on the menu because they all sounded delicious.
However, I had to settle with trying my companion’s chocolate charlotte
served with creme anglaise (NIS 32). I can’t say it was the best
chocolate dessert I have ever tried, but it was definitely at the higher
end of the spectrum.
Overall, we had a great evening and were impressed by the high quality
of the food and the attention to detail. The place is not cheap but it
is definitely good value for money, and I would recommend a visit if you
are looking for something a little special.
Bat Ami 7, Noga Theater Promenade (Gesher), Tel Aviv Opening hours: Sunday - Thursday 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday one hour after Shabbat goes out till 11 p.m.
Tel: (03) 681-0637.