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On my daughter's birthday 15 years ago she announced that she wanted to have dinner at Ad Ha'Etzem (To the Bone) as her friends had told her it served the best steak in Israel. At the time, Jerusalem had very few good meat eateries, and we had tried them all. So we drove all the way to Herzliya Pituah for her birthday dinner and were not disappointed.
Last week I again had the opportunity of dining there, and am pleased to report that the food has even improved, with the addition of new items on the menu.
The restaurant is comfortable and unpretentious although, when full, rather noisy. One recent addition is an outside glass-enclosed room which seats 60 and is a smoking area during the week.
As customary, I ordered a cocktail, which proved by far the best classic margarita I have had in Israel, the sweet and sour perfectly balanced. There was enough for two glasses - a real bargain at NIS 36.
Both Hebrew and English menus are available, and the day's specials are detailed by attentive waiters. While listing the starters, our waiter mentioned calamari, and my dining partner's eyes lit up. I have now warned him that I will have to change partners if he orders them again, as there is nothing to critic about fried calamari apart from whether they are fresh or frozen, rubbery or soft, and whether the oil is fresh or not. These were fresh, soft and chewy, lightly fried and served with fresh lemon and a nice tart sauce.
The chicken liver was thinly sliced in a piquant sauce, served with a slice of toast. The portion was perfect for a first course. The hors d'oeuvre menu offers everything from soup, the ever-so-tasty onion loaf, potato skins and buffalo wings to filet carpaccio, mushrooms, garlic bread and the specials of the day. Prices range from NIS 26 to 40.
As main courses we couldn't resist the T-bone "special." I've always considered T-bone to be the best cut, as it has the entrecote on one side and the smaller but ,ore tender filet on the other. It comes in weights of 550 grams to 750 grams, with chips, baked potato and sour cream, rice or green beans. We chose the 600-gram version, since we also ordered baby ribs.
While waiting for the meat to be cooked, the house salad arrived. The rather uninteresting ingredients - fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes and red onions - blended perfectly with the house's mustard dressing, which is sold at the restaurant and also at the Tif Ta'am chain.
The grilled T-bone arrived - happily on a plate and not on a cast iron dish that, while it keeps food hot, continues to cook it. The T-bone was done to perfection, medium-rare, tender and full of flavor. The baby ribs, on the other hand, were a little too well done and dry. Seeing other patrons eating with their fingers, we followed suit and realized the restaurant was aptly named, as we really got down "to the bone." The very good sauces are served on the side so as not to mask the meat.
Other main courses are hamburgers (NIS 58 to 68), ribs (NIS 83 to 93); chicken (58-82); sirloin, entrecote and filet steaks (NIS 89 to 118) and the T-bone is by weight at NIS 26 per 100 grams; pork dishes are from NIS 72 to 89.
A business lunch, comprising a salad, main course and soft drink, is served on weekdays at NIS 59 to 79.
If you are looking for an unpretentious place with really good meat and excellent cocktails, don't miss it. A year ago, a new branch of Ad Ha'etzem opened at Airport City.
Ad Ha'Etzem, HaGalim street on the corner of Maskit Street, Herzlyia Pituah; (09) 950-138. Reservations recommended on weekends.