A dish at The West Side TLV restaurant.
(photo credit: DANNY GOLAN)
What could be more ideal than sitting at a table looking out over the Tel Aviv promenade on a spring evening and anticipating dinner in one of Israel’s finest restaurants? The West Side TLV restaurant is situated in the Royal Beach Hotel. Under the direction of chef Omri Cohen, it has built up a faithful clientele among Israelis and is loved by tourists, too, simply because dining at the West Side is a pleasurable experience from start to finish. Not only is the food very good and very unusual, but the service and attention to detail are superb.
Our waitress, Topaz, was efficient and charming and spoke perfect English, as did all the staff (not that we needed it, I hasten to add.) Our predinner drinks – a gin and tonic and Bloody Mary – arrived fairly quickly and helped stimulate the robust appetite that would be needed for the evening’s culinary adventure.
The first item to come to the table was so good it set the mood for the whole meal – a fresh brioche served with aioli s’hug (a Yemenite concoction) and olives (NIS 12). This was so light, soft and cake-like, it was like eating a cloud. Dipping pieces of this into the garlicky spicy s’hug was sheer heaven.
For an amuse-gueule, a small plate of pickled squash garnished with pine nuts was set down with a chaser of rum and cucumber juice. Very refreshing.
Then it was time for the first courses. I chose the ceviche – some ultra-fresh chopped raw grouper with herbs set in a cucumber gazpacho (cold green soup), and garnished with mint. It was very good and lemony but far too much to finish (NIS 78).
My companion’s goose liver pâté (NIS 92) was as cholesterol-laden as expected, but the cherry jam and slightly bitter endive leaves helped to counteract this. It was especially good on what was left of the brioche – but then anything would be.
Another starter appeared unannounced – crispy pizza crust topped with pieces of raw red tuna, fried eggplant, a coddled egg and tehina powder (NIS 88.) This was one of the new dishes on the menu.
The fish was so fresh it had no taste but a pleasing texture.
For the main course, I chose the chicken breast marinated in lemon with pickled lemon on the side, served with little fried croquettes (NIS 110). It was a whole breast on the bone, not schnitzel, and was a very generous as well as succulent dish.
My companion’s fillet steak, served medium, was crispy but tender, and came with the bonus of a marrow bone which was full of tasty innards. The chef explained that sometimes fillet steak can be a little dry, and the marrow bone was served to counter this (NIS 175).
The vegetables accompanying the steak were a mountain of potato puree mashed up with some chopped truffles, which added a great flavor. There was also some kale in a lovely emerald shade.
The prelude to dessert was a display of dry ice, which exploded in a whiff of smoke, producing oohs and aahs from those present.
My companion chose black forest cake, served on what looked like a piece of log, with chocolate mousse balls iced in more chocolate and little meringues in the shape of tiny toadstools – a really literal presentation of a forest which also tasted wonderful.
I chose my usual lemon mousse, with pineapple sorbet set on a slice of semolina cake. It was not quite lemony enough but good nonetheless (desserts NIS 54).
The wine throughout the meal was a Carmel Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, which was a rich and mellow red with fruit and woody overtones.
We ended our meal with a mint water and an espresso and left the hotel with an intense feeling of bonhomie toward the world.
Royal Beach Hotel
19 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
Sunday to Thursday, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tel: (03) 740-5054