Bars with brunch

Expert mixology meets weekend brunches at Bellboy and Bet Kandinof.

BELLBOY (photo credit: ANATOLI MICHAELO)
BELLBOY
(photo credit: ANATOLI MICHAELO)
Bellboy, one of the three popular bars owned by the creative Monkey Business hospitality group, has to be one of the most atmospheric saloons in Tel Aviv. Furnished like a sitting room of the late 19th to early 20th century, its lively soundtrack features the kind of music to which flappers used to dance the Charleston.
On weekdays, Bellboy is open in the evenings only, but the bar serves a two-course  brunch on Fridays and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. For the all-inclusive price of NIS 120, diners receive an array of appetizers (with unlimited refills), three kinds of bread, a choice of a main course, plus a drink.
For a slight surcharge, one may order a cocktail from a list of six special brunch cocktails, all of them different from the 27 specialty cocktails served on weeknights. Some are embellished with the most unusual garnishes, such as a marshmallow on a sweet drink, or the house Bloody Mary adorned with bacon, shrimp and horseradish foam. 
The appetizers are served in tiny saucers that are placed on an ornamental “tree.” We particularly enjoyed the gravlax with honey mustard and dill; the egg salad with the faintest hint of truffle; the tuna confit with citrus aioli; and the sour cream with blanched slivered almonds and tomato fumé.
Our main courses were no less fancy. The delicious steak and eggs – succulent entrecôte topped with a single poached egg – were accompanied by small potatoes roasted black, arranged artistically around a tiny “bonfire” fueled by marshmallow. A very different entrée was a stack of pumpkin pancakes, interspersed with layers of bacon, which together constituted a harmonious symphony of sweet-and-savory sensations.
There are two desserts (NIS 38/42), from which we selected the “Netanya bread,” which turned out to be rectangles of French toast topped with fresh pear, banana and raspberries and drenched in a white chocolate and caramel sauce. Decadently good.
(Consistent with the décor’s 1920s theme, a period that predates espresso machines, no latte or cappuccino is available.)

A brunch that is brand new
Beit Kandinof (reviewed on these pages on June 28), which opened this year, calls itself a bar, a restaurant and an art gallery. Like its art, Beit Kandinof’s chairs and tables are interspersed throughout the premises, but the most comfortable seating area is in the interior room that houses the full bar.
Just a few weeks ago, the popular restaurant expanded its menu to include a weekend brunch, served Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. During these hours, the bar serves three morning cocktails at reduced prices (NIS 25) – including one specialty cocktail, the Jaffa Sunrise, a terrific concoction blending tequila, orange juice and pomegranate (the latter in lieu of the traditional grenadine).
Naturally, Bet Kandinof’s six specialty cocktails served daily are also available, at their regular price; there is also a fine selection of beers, as well as a limited but adequate international wine list.
Brunch consists of three components: a sizable appetizer platter (called the Jaffa Table), a main course, and either juice or coffee, for an all-inclusive price of NIS 75 to 95, depending on the choice of one of six main courses. Our Jaffa Table comprised no fewer than nine mezze – all liberally refilled – and was accompanied by a generous plate of a variety of breads: hallah, sesame-seeded baguette and a whole focaccia liberally dusted with za’atar.
Among the Jaffa Table standouts, which can be ordered as a main course for NIS 50, were a rich ikra, flavorful herring, and an interesting almond-pumpkin spread (inexplicably erroneously called skordalia, even though it bears not the slightest resemblance to that Greek garlic-based delicacy). 
The main courses we sampled were the steak and eggs and the seafood shakshouka. The former was a fried egg with four tasty pieces of steak – and expertly seasoned roasted potatoes that were practically addictive – while the latter was shrimp and calamari tempura served in a zesty tomato sauce that frankly did not meet the standard to be defined as shakshouka, as the egg component (albeit not missing) was lacking.  
The desserts at brunch are the same three that are served in the evenings (NIS 29 to 38). Two that reflect Middle Eastern culinary traditions are the coconut malabi, and a semolina cake cum whipped cream extravaganza called “Beirut Nights.” Both were extremely sweet, without being overly filling.

The writer was a guest of the restaurants

Bellboy
Not kosher
Berdichevsky St. 14, Tel Aviv
Tel. (03) 728-9213
Beit Kandinof
Not kosher
HaTzorfim St. 14, Jaffa
Tel. (03) 650-2938


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