Moshavnik Zvika Eshet has been in the restaurant business for many years, but it was only a few months ago that he finally opened a place dedicated to the passion he has long been cultivating: the art of smoking meat.
Eshet’s attention to detail extends beyond the kitchen. The woodpaneling décor recalls a typical BBQ joint in the rural United States, and the meat for the restaurant must meet his strict standards.
“Our beef is all natural, sourced locally from the Golan Heights,” Eshet says. “Most importantly, it contains no hormones and no antibiotics. Our meats are all smoked using citrus wood, primarily grapefruit, and then grilled over coals.”
Eshet has honed his craft, introducing innovative and perhaps unique methods, such as combining marinating and cooking sous vide together with the smoking process.
He calls his approach “low and slow” – cooking at low temperatures for a long time.
Visits to Buckaroo for lunch and dinner result in two rather different experiences. At lunchtime, the restaurant fills up with workers from the neighboring hi-tech offices; and in addition to the premium meats, the menu features such familiar American standbys as hamburgers, Sloppy Joes and shredded beef slathered in viscous sauce.
Dinner, on the other hand, is a more leisurely affair. Diners are encouraged to order one of Buckaroo’s tasting menus: six different meats for NIS 149 per person or eight different meats for NIS 185 per person. A tasting meal includes a whole slew of side dishes: house salad, “bonfire” potatoes, barbecued beans, pickles and cole slaw.
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While Buckaroo’s prime cuts may be ordered à la carte, many lunch options are not on the evening menu at all.
Even the signature Cowburger – ranked one of Israel’s best burgers – is unavailable, and the same goes for the shredded beef. Nevertheless, dinner is still family-friendly, since there are kids’ meals. Another option is to eat early: The business lunch menu is served weekdays until 15 p.m.
The prime cuts of meat that comprise the tasting meals are served two at a time in the center of the table on wooden platters with wedges of baked potato. On separate plates are pickled vegetables; the house salad – lettuce, tomato and lots of red onion rings, dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette; and cole slaw in a tangy, mustard-tinged dressing. The latter is one of the best versions of this dish I have encountered in Israel.
The smoked meats are also served with three condiments: an excellent chimichurri, a savory barbecue sauce and a zesty horseradish dip, all made in-house.
Our first platter featured slices of sirloin and large pieces of pullet. The former had been basted in a sweet and spicy marinade that enhanced the flavor of this prime cut of succulent beef without overpowering it. The pargit (not chicken thigh, as the English menu suggests), which had been marinated for 24 hours before smoking, was extremely juicy, with a bit of a delicate crust.
The next platter came with Buckaroo’s asado, which is actually short ribs, roasted until the meat literally falls off the bone. This fatty cut of beef benefits greatly from generous daubing with the superb house barbecue sauce. The same sauce permeates the lunch menu’s shredded beef, a dish that will transport you straight back to wherever in the old country you first learned to enjoy oldfashioned barbecue.
This platter was accompanied by yet another special Buckaroo side dish: barbecued beans studded with cubes of beef in a distinctive dark sauce that had simmered for 24 hours on a coal fire.
Finally, for a change of pace, we were served lamb breast, an entrée that alternates with lamb spare ribs.
The lamb was seasoned with a dry rub, for a subtler touch. It was paired with picania, a Brazilian cut from bottom round roast that was positively mouth-watering.
When it comes to a beverage, BBQ calls for cold beer or a robust red wine that can stand up to the main event.
Thus Buckaroo has an ample selection of domestic and imported beers to choose from – two on tap and six in bottles. Eshet has also chosen South Africa’s Douglas Green Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend as the house wine, which does the job admirably. It is available by the glass (NIS 26), halfbottle or full bottle.
Unlike the bilingual lunch and dinner menus, the dessert menu is nonexistent in English, but the knowledgeable waiters can explain the choices, all priced at NIS 28.
According to Eshet, the most popular is the warm banana coated with toffee and topped with buttery crumble, nicely reminiscent of Bananas Foster. Fans of chocolate, meanwhile, will love the Chocolate Explosion, a thick and decadent mousse that is 85 percent Belgian chocolate. Both desserts go well with the freshly brewed cappuccino (NIS 11).
There is no doubt that Buckaroo has gained a loyal following in its brief existence. Its Loyalty Club, which offers significant benefits, already has a membership of more than 3,000.
Members receive notification of monthly wine-pairing tasting dinners, which are invariably sold out.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
13 Zarhin Street, Ra'anana
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