Lumina at Carlton Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In 2011, Tel Aviv’s Carlton Hotel, a beachfront property that is also a popular business hotel, began multi-million-dollar renovations that finally culminated in 2016. Halfway through the process, the architects carved out a space on a mezzanine floor designed to accommodate a new restaurant: Lumina, one of only two kosher establishments – both housed in the Carlton – to bear the imprint of celebrity chef Meir Adoni.
At the time, Adoni was still helming his flagship restaurant Catit and its less formal sister Hamizlala. Since then, he has closed both those places and decamped to New York, where he has launched an ambitious café called Nur. This leaves the meat restaurant Lumina, and its companion dairy restaurant Blue Sky, as the only Adoni restaurants left in Tel Aviv.
Lumina, as its name suggests, is full of light: floor-to-ceiling windows face out onto the Mediterranean and Kikar Atarim, with two small balconies offering al fresco seating. The restaurant’s white décor magnifies the brightness of the natural light.
As befits a restaurant bearing the Adoni name, there are six distinctly creative specialty cocktails (NIS 54). The Gamba Loca – tequila, yellow bell pepper, basil and lime, served neat in a martini glass and garnished with red chili – takes its color from the herb rather than the vegetable and packed a bit of a punch.
The Gin Berries, meanwhile – gin, fresh red berries, lime, mint and passion fruit, served on the rocks in a tumbler – was cool and refreshing.
The dinner menu starts off with a choice of three house breads, from which we chose the kubana (NIS 29) – a Yemenite brioche served with a mild tomato salsa. It is very easy – but definitely not advisable – to fill up on the large, fluffy loaf.
The menu continues with Appetizers and First Courses that are basically interchangeable. The only difference is that the former are cold or raw dishes, while the latter are cooked. Lumina’s Appetizers, First Courses and Main Courses are featured on the regular menu and a menu of specials, which rotate monthly.
When it came to choosing starters, we didn’t make it past the specials menu. Our first choice was the goose liver parfait with citrus glaze, hazelnuts, licorice fragments and tangerine, served with brioche toast (NIS 117). The parfait was aptly named, since it looked like a dessert and was studded with fruit and candy. The resulting sweetness was in just the right proportion to the richness of the creamy pâté. It was an outstanding dish that was gone all too soon.
Next was roast entrecôte on citrus cubes with Persian lemon, Bharat, pickled lemons, smoked tomato, eggplant salsa, chickpeas and okra, dressed with a tehina and amba vinaigrette (NIS 107). The thin slices of prime beef were succulent both with and without the underlying bed of exquisitely seasoned eggplant and tehina purée.
For the salad course we chose the beet salad (NIS 69/89): julienned organic beets with endive, salanova, black quinoa, Uzbek apricot, dried cranberries, walnuts, and ginger, drizzled with soy vinegar. The sweetand- savory salad was surprisingly spicy and available with or without morsels of sparerib (which were not as crispy as described).
Our sole main course was the intriguingly named Summer Nights in Istanbul (NIS 239) – veal fillet dusted with coffee powder, served with dollops of foie gras, grilled apple and maple, date and goose breast with onions, shallot, leek, cocoa beans and pistachio cream. While it took the kitchen several tries to grill the meat to our desired level of doneness, once it succeeded, it was tasty fun pairing forkfuls of the juicy medallion of veal with the inventive condiments that shared its plate.
There are six desserts (NIS 53-63), each consisting of a multitude of ingredients. The Summer Scream, for example, comprised almond milk panna cotta with yuzu and kaffir lime, apricot cream, puffed wild rice, mint granita, macha tea meringue and coconut sorbet. The faux panna cotta suffered from having to be parve, but there was enough going on to make for a light, sweet finale to a memorable meal.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Lumina @ Carlton TLV Kosher 1 Eliezer Peri St., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 520-1828