(photo credit: PR)
Aubergine is known throughout Tel Aviv for its consistent style and high quality and is a favorite among many locals and visitors who are looking for a place where they can enjoy a fine kosher dining experience. With its seasonal dishes, this popular enclave in the David Intercontinental Hotel takes dining to a whole new level. The restaurant exudes charm, and it is clear that chef Alon Hirtenstein is not just creating a restaurant but a destination, with regulars who go there as much for the warmth and friendship as for the food. The waiters were exceedingly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Our food was prepared quickly, plated beautifully and cooked to perfection.
The chef wanted my dining companion and me to get a good understanding of what the restaurant has to offer, so after we provided a little guidance as to our likes and dislikes, we were brought a parade of tastes. The menu offers a little bit of every major kosher meat group, as well as fish and vegetarian options. What ties them all together is the quality of the food, which is based on what’s in season. The tasty dishes are complemented by the finest selection of Israeli wines, both local and international.
We began our meal with the garden salad with strips of cured salmon. The salad was loaded with mainly shredded carrots, peppers and cucumbers. It was a delicious combination of flavors and fresh ingredients, and the smoky salty flavor of the cured salmon was to die for. Next up was salmon and grouper ceviche (NIS 65) in a cherry tomato gazpacho. I’m a sucker for a good ceviche, and this place delivers that! It was an incredible fusion of sweet, spicy and citric. The fish in the ceviche was very fresh, and the sauce was potent and flavorful without overpowering the fish.
This was followed by quinoa salad (NIS 35) with roasted acorn squash, cranberries, hazelnuts and seasonal fruit. Everything tasted fresh, and what was supposed to be crunchy was crunchy and what was supposed to be soft was soft. But what really pulled it together was the dressing. I don’t know what goes into that dressing, but it was all the right amounts of sweet, sour and heat.
We enjoyed the seared red tuna appetizer as well, which was the perfect size to fill you up but not leave you feeling overly full. The tuna was lightly seared, leaving it delectably raw in the middle; and the avocado and eggplant served on the side complemented the fish very well. For mains we were presented with the Mediterranean grouper fillet (NIS 180). The combination of fish, zucchini spinach frittata, cured lemon and tahini formed a delicious, perfectly balanced combo. The fish was crisp on the outside, but the inside was absolutely perfect: not a drop overdone but not underdone, either. The grouper was so fresh that there was no hint of that fishy taste fish can have.
This was followed by oven-baked Norwegian salmon fillet (NIS 120) on a bed of cauliflower-turmeric cream with broccoli salsa and grilled red onion. The salmon was grilled perfectly, with just the right amount of juiciness and tenderness.
Last we were served baby lamb chops (NIS 120). At first, I thought it looked a little too rare for my taste, but when I took a bite of the lamb, it literally melted in my mouth. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the accompanying truffle mashed potatoes and polenta croutons were a treat.
The desserts (NIS 35 each) were delightful. We shared the creme chocolate, creme brulee with raspberry sauce and drunken cherries, as well as the tarte tatin, which was quite sweet but not overly so. The scoops of mango, passion fruit and coconut sorbet provided the perfect finishing touch.
In all, the outing was a hit. It’s encouraging to see chefs tackling the kosher scene with creativity and skill. Not only is the food of the highest quality, but the wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and their smiles are genuine. They really seem to enjoy their work. So when you’re looking to combine gourmet food and an elegant atmosphere with nearly faultless service, you’ll find that Aubergine has it covered.
T he writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Aubergine Kosher David Intercontinental Hotel Tel Aviv (03) 795-1255