(photo credit: MALI BEN SHIMOL)
Deca in Tel-Aviv is a well-established fish restaurant that we have visited several times, so an invitation to an evening of food and wine to herald innovations to its menu was impossible to resist.
Chef Ilan Mizrachi and Hayotzer Winery chief oenologist Philippe Lichtenstein welcomed the guests and explained the concept: The evening would be devoted to good food served with carefully chosen wines. The meal would later be offered to the public during the rest of April and three weeks in May.
Hayotzer Winery was founded in 1847, and Lichtenstein is an eighth-generation member of the founding company. He waxed lyrical about his product, even describing some of his wines as intelligent, whatever that means.
I was rather more interested in the food at this point, as it was now 8:40 p.m. and lunch was a distant memory. To get things going, we were served an amuse-gueule of cauliflower mousse in cups, a tasty morsel which only aggravated the situation.
Finally we were served our starters. My companion chose bouillabaisse, which I had only ever seen brimming with forbidden seafood at adjacent tables in restaurants of Nice, France. This kosher version had a few chunks of fish in it, was rich and creamy, and heavy on the turmeric both in color and taste.
My first course was a plate of purple quinoa, topped with raw fresh salmon cubes and garnished with slivers of purple carrot. I could fault neither the taste nor the color scheme. The wine served was Lyrica Viognier, a young (2017) dry and fruity white.
Instead of the standard sorbet palate-freshener, they brought little pieces of jelly which were certainly different, if less fun.
The main courses could be fish or vegetarian. I chose the sea bass with asparagus cream and tortellini. It was a great dish, the fish perfectly cooked, with a fried onion garnish that added a lot. The pasta was filled with an unidentified vegetable puree, while the fresh asparagus had been grilled with the fish. The only disappointment was the asparagus cream, which didn’t taste of the luxury veggie, but it was a lovely shade of green. My companion’s bass fillets, served with corn-flavored risotto, were equally good, a generous helping of three very fresh pieces of fish crisply fried.
By this time it was very late, and dessert had not yet arrived. When it did, it felt like an afterthought, a plate of various blobs of chocolate, cream and goo, which purported to be mousse and tiramisu. During this finale we were addressed by Gil Goren, who went from being an advertising executive to an artist after an epiphany while visiting New York some years ago. His collages will adorn the walls of Deca for the next few weeks.
As the meal drew to a close I looked around at my fellow journalists, all busy typing into their phones. I was the only one, out of maybe 20, with a notepad and ballpoint pen.
And, guess what, I didn’t mind at all. Call me the contented dinosaur.Deca
HaTa’asiya 10, Tel-Aviv
Sun-Thur: 12 noon-11 p.m.
Bar only: 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Price for couple NIS 450, available through buyme.co.il.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
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