Ramat Aviv’s Café Albert.
(photo credit: AMIR MENACHEM)
Fresh Kitchen has branches all over the country, and all of them try to live up to the name, with fresh local ingredients and the aim of serving contemporary menus in attractive surroundings.
We visited the kosher Fresh Kitchen at the Arena Mall overlooking the Herzliya Marina recently and the setting doesn’t get much more attractive than this, with a heated patio looking out at the sea and the lively mall as backdrop.
Determined that this culinary adventure was going to be healthy above all, we chose mainly vegetarian dishes, although the menu offers a variety of fish dishes too.
I decided that the liquid refreshment would also stay in the health department, ordered a glass of carrot juice and eschewed any alcohol. My companion didn’t go quite that far, quenching his thirst with a light ale.
For my first course I chose stone-baked vegetables with medallions of goat’s cheese.
It consisted of whole fresh mushrooms, fingers of zucchini, and chunks of purple onion served on a bed of smoked aubergine (eggplant), and topped with round slices of white cheese.
The vegetables were good, not overdone and definitely not overloaded with calories. But one taste of the delicious cheese, and hopes of eating a low-calorie dish flew out of the window. It was rich and creamy with a high percentage of fat. At home nothing above 5% makes it into my refrigerator. Oh well.
My companion chose the soup of the day, a tasty bowl of courgettes and carrots thickened with rice. The promised spicy croutons did not appear and were replaced by triangles of toast. Nevertheless, it was a comforting option for a chilly Israeli evening.
We both virtuously chose all-vegetable mains, mine a supposedly red curry, his an Indian stew. There wasn’t a lot to distinguish between them. As great aficionados of Indian food, these were very bland examples of the genre. The curry flavor was much too mild for us, but we understood the chef’s need to flavor for less robust palates.
The red curry contained chunks of zucchini, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green beans, green and purple onion and fresh coriander, and came with perfectly cooked basmati rice garnished with chopped peanuts.
The Indian stew had the same veggies with the addition of carrots, peas, potatoes, some edamame and an authentic garam masala taste. The accompanying rice was the same as in my dish.
Where Fresh Kitchen really comes into its own is in the dessert department. Of course, dairy desserts are always better than pareve, as fresh cream and butter can be used.
My companion chose the French cheese cake with a coulis of forest fruits. I’m not sure why it was labeled French, as it’s exactly like the one everyone I know makes on Shavuot, with biscuit crumb butter base and a large amount of white cheese mixed with egg and sugar for topping. It was as good as it always is, and the coulis, a thick, sweet, wonderfully tart purple sauce provided a perfect counterpoint.
My choice was the apple and cinnamon pie. It’s a “specialite de la maison” in the Deutsch household and I wanted to see if it was as good as mine. The pieces of caramelized apple came rather large, but I liked the neat lattice top, the crumbly short crust pastry and the small mountain of Chantilly cream on the side.
We ended our meal with two excellent cappuccinos, one regular one decaffeinated, and left with the distinct feeling we would return to Fresh Kitchen in the Arena Mall one day soon.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
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