(photo credit: PR)
A restaurant situated on the beach in Ashdod, with the waves lapping gently onto the clean white sand – what better setting could there be for a gourmet meal which also happens to be kosher? Aramis is the brainchild of proprietor Roman Kabilov, who came to Israel from Bukhara as a child and has always worked in the catering business. He opened the restaurant with three partners, all family, a year ago. He chose the name Aramis in deference to the Three Musketeers and the fact that the French influence is strong in the cuisine, although very much tempered by the culinary habits of Israelis and the constraints of kashrut.
The personable Kabilov explained his decision to open Aramis when we arrived one starry night to sample the menu.
“One evening we all sat around and came to a decision. We’d always worked in catering, but small kiosks and falafel stands,” he says. “We wanted to try something more ambitious. When we saw this place which was available for renting, we knew we had found what we were looking for.”
Aramis has established itself so well that customers think nothing of driving down from Tel Aviv for the evening for a gastronomic adventure.
We began our meal with the perennial home-baked bread (NIS 19) and dips: chopped olives, sundried tomato dip, which was irresistible, and ceviche (NIS 68) made from ultra-fresh chopped bass mixed with three kinds of diced peppers, purple onion and plenty of garlic and herbs. The tehina was especially good, as it had the unusual addition of amba, the yellow Indian condiment full of mango and healthy turmeric.
Another starter that arrived at the table was aubergine baladi (NIS 34), roasted eggplant served with tehina which was spiced with harissa, the peppery blend of flavors much loved by Israelis of Yemenite descent.
Kabilov insisted we try a fish dish before the main meat course, so a plate with a whole lavrak arrived from the kitchen. It had been opened and baked in the oven (“we try not to fry too much,” he says) and was delicious, flavored with sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper. It came with a beetroot cream and roasted vegetables.
Having told Kabilov that we eat anything and that he should bring whatever he wanted to the table, we were pleasantly surprised when our main course arrived, Tournedos Rossini, which meant we could sample the steak, usually the test of a restaurant’s competence.
It was not only delicious but also beautiful to behold – two perfect fat round steaks topped with roasted goose liver, with potato puree on the side decorated with tiny mushrooms seeming to grow out of the earth. It was perched on a homemade brioche which had absorbed the meat juices. It was, for me anyway, the highlight of the meal.
Other main courses on offer are entrecote (NIS 108), prime rib (NIS 147), lamb chops (NIS 125) and hamburger (NIS 69).
Finally, having again left the choice of dessert to Kabilov, we were presented with a beautiful white and red creation that turned out to be a Pavlova – crispy perfect meringue, topped with parve cream, vanilla ice cream and a fruity blackcurrant sauce, with crisp tuiles completing the picture (NIS 39).
Aramis is available for parties and can cater for up to 150 people. The locals use it for brit milas, engagements and occasionally weddings. It’s quite a way from the center but well worth the trip.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
1 Lido Beach, Ashdod
Tel: (08) 627-0440
Sunday to Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight Friday, 9 a.m. until one hour before Shabbat Saturday, one hour after Shabbat