(photo credit: SHAY BEN EPHRAIM)
Winemaker and restaurateur Yossi Ben Udis has two reasons to celebrate this year: his Hatraklin Meat and Wine Bistro is marking its 12th anniversary, and he recently took first-place honors in an international sommeliers’ competition held in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Fortunately, this owner of award-winning winery Château de Galilee is always eager to share the expertise that has curated one of the most interesting and extensive wine cellars in the country: a collection of some 500 vintages, from 160 Israeli boutique wineries. Interestingly, Hatraklin has no wine list; one of the restaurant’s knowledgeable staff will make suggestions and offer unlimited tastings of wines until you pick the one you want.
Another reason for Hatraklin’s success is that the restaurant is as particular about its meat as its wine. The beef it serves comes fresh from the Golan Heights, and is then aged in-house for three to four weeks.
The food menu categories are: Starters (NIS 36-52), Charcuterie (NIS 48), and Main Courses (NIS 86-168). Vegetarian options are listed both on their own and among the starters.
As we perused the bilingual menu, our waiter recommended one of the evening’s specials as a starter: beef tartare. This version was quite different from the traditional: instead of being topped with a raw egg yolk, the raw beef was smothered in fresh green cilantro. I probably would have preferred the added moistness of the egg, but the combination of high-quality beef with the zesty herb – especially together with the house bread, fluffy warm Moroccan frenah (NIS 24) – was eminently satisfactory.
Our second appetizer was beet carpaccio – three huge discs of the ruby-red vegetable drizzled with olive oil that were robust and meaty, a vegan foreshadowing of the main course to come.
Next was one of the most intriguing sausages from the charcuterie section, all sourced from Alain Talmor, Israel’s master of the art of delicatessen. The beef and lamb sausage, seasoned with port and plums, was bursting with flavors that I never would have imagined could have come from a simple-looking hot dog.
The choice of steaks at Hatraklin is not a simple matter, but our deliberations came to an end when we were informed that the cut being offered by weight (NIS 50 per 100 grams) that evening was a porterhouse on the bone for two. We shared the smaller option, 600 grams, and knew we had made the right choice from the very first bite. Quite simply, it was one of the best steaks I have had recently.
There are five desserts on the menu (NIS 42-52), plus occasional rotating specials. Unfortunately, our first choice was not available, so we went with the waiter’s final recommendation of the evening: the vanilla cream malabi with silan. I am not generally a fan of this Middle Eastern dessert, but this creamy version was reminiscent of panna cotta, and the date honey was a welcome change from the usual rose water.
Chocolate is always featured among the desserts, and on our evening it was available as a chocolate sphere filled with white chocolate, which was drenched with rich hot chocolate poured table-side, thus melting the outer shell to reveal the contrasting interior. Definitely a decadent finale.
HaTraklin Meat and Wine Bistro
Heikhal HaTalmud 4, Tel Aviv
Sun-Fri: 6:30 p.m.-midnight
Sat: 1p.m.-midnightThe writer was a guest of the restaurant
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