It was just two years ago that celebrity chef Moshe Segev’s flagship restaurant in Herzliya hailed its grand re-opening, following a devastating fire that had gutted the premises. This summer, in its ongoing quest to continuously reinvent itself, SegevArt held yet another grand re-opening, with a completely redesigned interior – and a revised menu, to boot.
The color black dominates the restaurant’s ultra-modern decor – walls, tables, chairs, ceiling, and even the waiters’ uniforms – yet the place is brightened somewhat by the use of mirrors and strategically placed lighting. Both the ground floor and balcony give the impression of intimacy; but if it is quiet conversation you want, upstairs is the better bet.
At a recent event unveiling the new menu to journalists, Segev himself recounted the history of his upscale restaurant, from its beginning 14 years ago, to its reimagining as SegevArt in 2014, down to the present day, when his culinary empire now consists of eateries bearing his name all over the country – some even kosher – reflecting a number of international cuisines. Space limitations preclude my describing here all the dishes we were served, in all their artistic permutations; suffice it to say that many were stunning, some even provocative, with a preponderance served as sculptures, while a few classics retained the previous preference for paintings.
Seven specialty cocktails (NIS 39 at lunch, NIS 49 at dinner) are listed on the English alcohol menu, which is regrettably marred by quite a few careless and avoidable mistakes. Even the cocktails here are served with a flair: The Golden Mango Gin is served with meringue tuile and coconut caviar, while the Pineapple Spices arrived in a tiny carafe that is poured at the table into a stemmed goblet garnished with herbs and flowers. The former packs a bit of a punch, while the latter is complex and sweet.
The bilingual food menu comprises four categories: Bakery (NIS 32-49); Earth (NIS 66-81); Meat (NIS 65-130): and Big Blue (NIS 69-94). The Earth category contains hot and cold vegetarian dishes, while the Meat section is half beef and half poultry; Big Blue features six fish and one seafood dish.
The first category is actually just a bread basket, served with Dutch butter and truffle-pistachio aioli; for an extra charge, you may add three more substantial dips. SegevArt’s reputation for dazzling presentation is reflected right from the outset, with the bread: triangular sesame seed focaccias, and a thick square of jet black bread encrusted with almonds and seeds. The accompanying spreads came in three shapes: a ribbony spiral of beet butter, a pool of aioli with a black eggplant “eye,” and a flower bud of soft European butter.
Our first course was the restaurant’s signature soup: roasted eggplant with cream, thyme, truffle oil and yogurt, strikingly served in a black bowl amidst a tray full of shiny black stones. The velvety soup was hearty and satisfying, although perhaps more appropriate for the winter than a hot summer’s afternoon.
Next came the beef filet carpaccio, which had so much going on, the dish itself looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. While the meat was fresh and flavorful, it was a little overwhelmed by the multitude of herbs and spices, such as mizuna leaves and wasabi powder, accented with balsamic vinegar.
There was more balance in the spicy sprout salad. Served in a slightly disconcerting sculpture of a head with its skull removed – and draped with a necklace that is a keepsake souvenir from the Make-a-Wish Foundation – this delicious, refreshing mix of bean sprouts and julienned kohlrabi in a tangy dressing featured lots of crunch, chased by a tingle of heat. This sleeper dish of the meal was also the menu’s only vegan option.
The sea bream fillet with a mushroom cream sauce was presented as a painting, complete with an eye-catching dollop of whipped purple sweet potato. The nicely cooked fish was literally buried under the generous ladling of mushrooms and sauce, but some of it can be scraped off to get to the main event. The mashed purple sweet potato, meanwhile, was sheer delight.
The filet in a cloud was a hefty medallion of filet mignon, lying under a large stalk of grilled bok choy and atop a pool of bright red curry sauce. The pairing of medium-rare steak with a bold curry sauce seemed a bit surprising at first; fortunately, the combination turned out remarkably well.
The international wine list is not extensive, but there is more than adequate availability by the glass, and plenty of premium vintages for those inclined to splurge.
We were treated to no fewer than four desserts, each more outlandishly presented than the next. One familiar sweet was the miniature cheesecakes presented as colors on a palette; it was great fun tasting and identifying the six colors, ranging from lemon and passion fruit to blueberry and chocolate.
Throughout the meal, the service was efficient, professional and knowledgeable, with tables cleared and silverware changed between courses. All in all, the experience of enjoying a meal at SegevArt is comprehensive and sensory.
16 Shenkar St. Herzliya
Tel. (077) 414-2025, ext. 2
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
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