Aubergine, the kosher restaurant at the David Intercontinental Hotel, is a heady experience.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The InterContinental David Tel Aviv hotel is located in an area known as “Little Tel Aviv,” not far from beautiful, treelined Rothschild Boulevard.
The main entrance, which is on the third floor, leads into a lobby decorated with a Far-Eastern touch. As one explores the lobby further, however, it opens up into an atrium- like area lined with towering white columns.
When we checked into the hotel last month and were assigned one of the newly designed Executive Premium rooms, we were relieved to hear that our 16-year-old is just old enough to qualify for access to the Club Lounge. “He made it al hakaskas [by a whisker],” said the receptionist. As we headed to the elevators, we passed a bride being photographed.
Our room on the 20th floor, overlooking the sea, exuded sophistication and glamour and seemed designed to serve as a luxurious home away from home for businesspeople and their families. It featured a long desk surface with conveniently placed outlets. Ample storage areas were available. The walnut cabinets and closets with clean lines complemented by neutral colors gave a sense of strength and relaxation. There were options for bright, muted or night lighting. The bathroom fixtures were stateof- the-art; naturally, our 16-yearold was the quickest to figure out how to use the ultramodern shower fixture.
Although we were three people in the room, there was a sense of spaciousness, thanks to the well-planned layout.
Created in partnership with Ara Design International, the upgraded Executive Premium rooms “put the hotel at the forefront of Tel Aviv luxury hospitality,” said general manager David Cohen in a press release. Recently, the hotel also renovated its Club Rooms, two of its Royal Suites and its Tel Aviv Suite.
One of the concierges told me that 80% of the hotel’s guests are from abroad. When a Chinese guest arrives, he or she is handed a Mandarin-language pamphlet. A Mandarin-speaking concierge is available most of the time, and a translator is on call. There are Chinese food options at breakfast, such as stir-fried vegetables over thin noodles, and chopsticks are front and center. So as regards the mix of its guests, the hotel truly lives up to its name. On Jewish holidays, the hotel is an especially popular destination for Israelis.
Shortly after our arrival, our teenager’s energy levels required immediate action. Fortunately, the hotel borders on the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood, which is home to the IDF History Museum, Etzel Museum and Nahum Gutman Museum of Art. My companion, meanwhile, strolled over to the renowned Sipur Pashut bookstore on nearby Shabazi Street. The upscale Aubergine gourmet kosher restaurant, situated right off the lobby, features Grecian pillars and a multi-tiered ceiling graced with an elegant chandelier. The atmosphere is European.
During dinner, chef Alon Hirtenstien took some time away from his busy kitchen to talk with us about his muses, from whom he draws inspiration – three Michelin-star chefs who were his guests in the kitchen at the hotel during the three-week “Kosher Taste of Michelin” festival he hosted in January.
We chose three different starters.The salmon trio consisted of a sweet gravlax, a crispy breaded salmon cube, and a juicy taste of gently baked salmon, all accompanied by a flavorful sauce. The vegan salad featured pickled avocado and a type of cheese-like tofu that was actually made from almonds.
The third starter was the most ambitious and, indeed, the most appreciated, especially by our younger taster. Juicy clusters of chicken bursting with flavor were wrapped in lettuce leaves and sliced, the discs sitting on a bed of bulgar that was colored and flavored by beets and coriander – a pleasure to behold as well as to savor.
For his entrée, my companion chose the beef tenderloin, which he pronounced perfectly cooked. It was accompanied by a crispy crostini delicately spread with pâté de foie gras. The teenage appetite was happy with his Angus roast, which came on a bed of delicately mashed sweet and white potatoes.
The pièce de résistance was Hirtenstien’s signature dish – mallard, which was plump and juicy, yet unbelievably delicate in flavor, covered with a ribbon of glazed berries and accompanied by three cubes of roasted fresh pineapple in a small lake of spinach sauce.
A chocolate fondant served warm with raspberry sorbet and a pool of cappuccino sauce rounded out the meal.
We were impressed with the attention to detail that went into every dish brought to the table. The evening was memorable due also to the attentive staff and gracious visits of the chef, who spoke with passion about his métier.
Hotel amenities also include an outdoor swimming pool with sun deck and pool bar, an upgraded spa and fitness center, and the stylish CHE cigar bar & lounge.
Throughout our stay at the hotel, the staff was impeccably courteous and helpful.
Conveniently, we checked out in the Club Lounge on the 24th floor.
The writer was a guest of the hotel. For more information about the hotel, visit www.intercontinental.com/telaviv or call (03) 795-1111.