Tel Aviv’s Ha’achim bistro.
(photo credit: PR)
Bistro Ha’achim (The Brothers), owned and operated by Assaf and Yotam Doktor, is an inviting eatery in central Tel Aviv. Offering tasty up-to-date cuisine at reasonable prices, the bistro is a very popular hangout for locals who appreciate the sophisticated yet friendly and easygoing atmosphere.
The new décor features a huge bar, which is much in demand. Sitting there, one can spend a happy hour (or two) just munching on several mezze dishes and enjoying one (or more) of the innovative cocktails created by the talented bar crew together with Imperial bar specialists.
In the past, the menu was based mainly on skewered meat, stuffed pita dishes and salads. The new menu is now centered on items prepared in the chef’s pride and joy – the new Josper charcoal oven grill, which lends a delightful smoky flavor to the meats, fish and vegetables.
Ha’achim was originally inspired by what once was a very common Israeli phenomenon, the shipudiya (the skewery), the likes of which you can still find at some gas stations around the country. The owners say that nostalgia was only one of the reasons they decided to establish this modernday shipudiya. The other is that they really like the idea of easy, fast, but well-prepared food.
But not much of the old food is left, and that may be a good thing.
The new menu makes use of fresh local ingredients, such as herbs, olive oil, tehina, fish and meat, as well as Arab-inspired dishes. It offers not only meat dishes but also a plethora of baked vegetable dishes, grilled fish and many salads, as well as delectable, fresh-baked filled flatbreads.
It was hard to choose from the mouth-watering menu, so we first enjoyed a lovely cocktail (NIS 26) and looked around.
Decorated in a cheerful, laid-back manner, this seems to be a popular gathering place for young locals celebrating in large groups, who can enjoy the outdoor seating area (now enclosed and heated for the winter).
We sat at the bar, but there is also a small indoor seating area that is furnished with warm wood and bright colors.
The main decorative feature are large posters of caricatures of familiar figures such as Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion.
The mezze are served in small plates to be shared. We sampled the charcoal-baked kohlrabi with feta cheese, thyme and chili (NIS 33) and cauliflower roasted in the charcoal oven served with lemony yogurt and za’atar (NIS 26). Both were perfect. The kohlrabi was tender and sweet, served with Hameiri feta, which is the best you can get in Israel; and the cauliflower, currently the most fashionable of all vegetables, was seared but not burnt, served with warm tehina. We also ordered a plate of labane cheese because the barman assured us that he had a cocktail that went perfectly with it. He was right.
The vegetarian siniya, a main dish made from seared vegetables baked with pine nuts and warm tehina, almonds and sumac (NIS 52), was another favorite.
The other main dish we ordered was a whole fish, stuffed with lemons and herbs and baked in the charcoal oven. The fish was made to perfection, and the za’atar and almond dressing was very fresh and flavorful (NIS 85).
We then tried another cocktail called Mad Ezekiel, made with vodka, green chartreuse, pineapple juice, lemon and a drop of green Tabasco sauce. It knocked us over, but we loved it.
Although we were now bursting at the seams, our host would not dream of letting us pass on dessert. He presented us with malabi, the Mideastern take on milk pudding, which the brothers say is their most popular dessert.
We are not big lovers of the dish, so we also had a few spoonfuls of the heavenly crème brulee and bade our farewells. Thank goodness we had a long stroll home.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Ha’achim Not kosher 12 Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 691-7171