(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chef Aviv Moshe fuses Israeli cuisine with Mediterranean style cooking. Every item on the menu receives special attention and showcases dishes unique to Messa in both taste and presentation. His knowledge of food was apparent in a new business lunch menu that my dining companion and I were served. It’s divided into two options – a 95-shekel or a 128-shekel menu – each of which includes several different starters and main courses.
Once you step foot in the dining room, you feel as if you’ve been transported to Europe. A seemingly endless white maple bar runs down the middle of the restaurant, illuminated by low-hanging light fixtures with oversized lampshades, while transparent oil-burning candelabras provide the flicker for a romantic meal.
First up were the roasted tomatoes with cheese fondue, buffalo mozzarella, sweet balsamic and croutons. Simple, right? NO WAY, this was such a culinary delight – the flavors paired perfectly with each other. Together with the tasty homemade bread and dips, it was an ideal way to begin our meal.
This was followed by the shakshuka sashimi, which consisted of seared red tuna, a soft-boiled egg, and small quarters of toast with a cheese filling, all on a bed of the freshest tomatoes. Pan-seared to perfection, the sashimi simply melted in the mouth. The mixture of tastes and textures of the tuna, egg and toast was sheer bliss. The essence of this dish was very complex, and the flavors blended together like magic. I would go back to eat that again in a heartbeat.
Next up was the homemade shallot ravioli with shimeji mushrooms, tomato raisins, cheese fondue and candied pecans. The ravioli melted in the mouth and was full of rich flavor. It was deliciously sweet and creamy, exactly as our knowledgeable and friendly waiter had described.
After a bit of a breather, it was onto mains. We were served sea bass with shallot ravioli and porcini foam. The fish was seasoned and grilled beautifully, with crispy skin and delicate white flesh. This was a delicious dish with plenty of aromas and flavors that sat harmoniously on the palate.
This was followed by strips of hanger steak on a large skewer. Hanger steak can deliver a distinct and chewy bark that contrasts a juicy and soft center, and that is exactly what Messa achieved with this dish. The steak was accentuated with a rich red wine sauce, as well as caramelized onions. The smoked goose puree was smooth, spreadable and not too harsh and did the already amazing steak even more justice.
The desserts were my favorite part of the meal. Aside from their technical beauty, the flavors were all spot-on. We shared the Sarkozy – a decadent dark chocolate delight made especially for the former French president on his visit here, as well as the semifreddo brulee with caramelized bananas and vanilla tuile.
What more can I say? You go to Messa for a remarkable experience: food that is creative, whimsical and delicious. Hopefully, I will get the chance to return. Just not too soon because I need time to recover from this severe separation anxiety I’m experiencing now with “normal” food.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Messa
HaArba’a St. 19, Tel Aviv
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