Having lived in Israel for more than nine years, I am only somewhat accustomed to the local customs of the restaurant service industry. One could be sitting at a table for a long while before a member of the wait staff brings a menu. Then another long wait until one is asked to order. Water must always be requested.
At Aubergine, the restaurant in the David Intercontinental, attentive service is at the top of their list. One of our waiters offered us several varieties of bottled mineral water immediately after we were seated. And of course, for the duration of our meal, our glasses were never empty.
Bread is also not always part of the dining experience in Israel. Here we were given two loaves; a hearty multigrain, and a crispy delicious focaccia. The breads were served with a sundried-tomato paste, an olive tapenade, and an eggplant dip. They also had my favorite - since I was introduced to it on a high school trip to the Culinary Institute of America - olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Chef Eibi Kakon, who has been working at Aubergine for the past five years, chose several items from the menu for us to taste. The presentations were exquisite with great attention to color, texture and ingredients. Our favorites were the goose liver and filet Rossini with potatoes and asparagus (NIS 175), and the lamb chop on polenta (NIS 146). I especially liked the organic chicken with the untraditional lychee and eggplant chutney (NIS 48).
Other dishes we sampled included a red tuna and grouper ceviche with beetroot, avocado cubes and caviar (NIS 52) which had a delightful combination of flavors, the perfectly pink lamb kebab on baby eggplant confit with green (parsley) and pink (beet) tahini sauces (NIS 52) and the organic chicken breast with a fried risotto ball in a smoky tomato sage sauce and peas (NIS 96).
We were informed that the menu is seasonal. By the time you read this article the winter dishes will be set.
I have mentioned in previous articles that I do not love wine. And although I do not consider myself an expert by any means, I have acquired a palate for it in the past year. The house red, a Ben Ami 2006 Merlot, was NIS 38 for the glass and NIS 152 per bottle. The house white, was a Sigal 2007 Chardonnay. We enjoyed both wines with our meal.
Aubergine caters mostly to an international clientele so the prices were a bit high for our Jerusalem pockets. But, in addition to the aforementioned high points there is also a view of the sea, which in my book, is priceless.
Aubergine is located at the David Intercontinental Hotel, Kaufman 12, Tel Aviv. Kosher. Open Sun-Thurs. for lunch 1-3; Sun - Thurs. for dinner 7-11. (03) 795-1255. Closed on Friday and Saturday. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.