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'I'll take an organic beet salad, pomegranate-basel juice, a few hits of oxygen, and a massage on the side."
This could be a typical order at Tierra, a new bistro in Tel Aviv whose waiters are also licensed massage therapists and whose bar also sells oxygen. Located on Rehov Yirmiyahu, near humus row, Tierra seeks to specialize in both mind and body, making it the only restaurant of its kind in Israel. While the concept may seem "un-Israeli," it makes sense that a place like Tierra would be found in what is arguably one of the most stressed countries in the world.
Yonatan Galili, one of Tierra's co-owners, envisioned a restaurant that would not only let people get in touch with their stomachs, but also with their general sense of well-being, which can be elusive to the stressed city professional. That's especially true in Tel Aviv, where more often than not a cigarette or wild party provide a needed break, but not necessarily a healthy one.
"Western culture is very intense; there is little free time and many demands, making it difficult for people to make time for themselves," Galili said. "A break at Tierra is short and professional, but on the other hand it's very available. You don't have to make an appointment."
The menu offers dishes that are light and fresh, with many fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fresh spices.
The menu includes sandwiches (NIS 28-36), and organic leafy salads (NIS 32-38). Appetizers include figs stuffed with mushrooms, macadamia nuts, and chicken (NIS 34) and whole-wheat tarts filled with cooked onions, pears and goat cheese (NIS 39). Main courses range from whole-wheat ravioli in white/red pepper, basil and thyme sauce (NIS 48) to sea bass in anise and saffron sauce (NIS 82).
Some dishes rate higher in health and creativity than in flavor. The aim is to leave diners feeling refreshed, light and fit.
There are plenty of relatively healthy all-natural desserts to choose from, but the less conventional desserts are the ones that make Tierra unique - such as 10 minutes of oxygen infused with aromatic oils (NIS 18). Oxygen is supposed to stimulate the senses, invigorate the body, increase concentration and create a natural buzz. To increase the effect, have some O2 together with Tierra's tasty passion fruit cocktail or Israeli organic red wine.
While it's optional, one shouldn't really leave Tierra without ordering a seven-minute massage (NIS 22), even if just for the experience of getting a massage in a restaurant chair. And if you're not hungry, you can easily order a massage with coffee; just make sure you request how you would like both served - weak or strong.
It's too bad that Tierra didn't open closer to the busy city centers where hustling professionals could take lunch/massage breaks, but Galili said he's eyeing more industrial venues for possible future branches.
Tierra, Yirmiyahu 54, Tel: (03) 604-7222. Open: 9 a.m. - last customer Business lunches: 1-6 p.m., NIS 59, 69 and seven-minute massage special for NIS 18
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