(photo credit: DANNY GOLAN)
Tishbi Winery in Zichron Ya’acov has built up a reputation as the home of excellent wines and good food. Now the Tishbi restaurant, located on the Zichron Pedestrian Mall, is also vying for attention with a brand new menu introduced by chef Lior Peterkovski which makes a point of using local products and raw materials.
The restaurant is situated in a historic stone building on a corner of Hameyasdim Street just before it becomes a pedestrian walkway. On Shabbat the place is buzzing with tourists, sightseers and locals out to inspect the exotic wares on display. At night it is eerily quiet – but the restaurant itself is cozy, warm and hospitable, with flickering candles and a wood-burning oven for baking the pizzas which feature on the menu.
Invited to sample the fare, we sat down and perused the menu, while our helpful waitress reeled off a list of specials.
A basket of sliced bread materialized, and we were told the slices were cut from buckwheat, whole meal and grain loaves. All were very fresh and rustic, and they came with butter and jam on the side. It would have been tempting to finish the bread in one go, but we decided we had better leave room for some actual food.
For my first course I chose a mozzarella ball filled with fresh cream, served with grilled tomatoes and fresh asparagus (NIS 68). It arrived tied with a green tinsel ribbon, which seemed rather out of place next to all the natural food.
The mozzarella was just the thing to eat with the fresh bread, the cream as wonderful as cream always is, and the grilled tomatoes added the acidic counterpoint needed for all that bland white stuff. The fresh asparagus were perfect, cooked just to the right point of edibility.
My companion chose smoked aubergine with goat cheese and pine nuts (NIS 53). Eggplant has been a staple in this country from the outset, and it was amusing to see how the humble vegetable had been elevated to become this sophisticated dish. As the plate was wiped clean, it was clearly a hit.
After the starters we were given sorbet à la London Jewish weddings, to freshen the palate before the main course.
For his main course my companion chose baked lavrak, a sea bass type of meaty fish which arrived perfectly done, accompanied by sautéed potatoes and chimichurri, an especially spicy version of the Argentinean relish (NIS 115).
I decided to throw caution to the wind and have a pizza – a dish that is synonymous for me with empty and unwanted calories, but just occasionally one should let one’s hair down.
The last pizza I had eaten, about 10 years before, had been flavored with oregano, but this was topped with chopped chives, a great improvement (NIS 64). It was served on the gray ceramic plate it had been cooked on, made by potter Karen Tishbi, the wife of one of the owners.
While debating whether to have a third slice or take it home, I looked around at the other diners.
There was a middle-aged couple in one corner of the restaurant who barely exchanged a word with each other all evening. Each had their phone on the table and, in between bites, were messaging other people and reading heaven knows what. Not for the first time, I wondered whether the phone revolution has been a blessing or a curse.
Dessert time produced two unbelievably good items, a chocolate tricolor mousse of dark, light and white chocolate enveloped in a rich chocolate icing, and a cheesecake on a crunchy biscuit base, which was not too sweet and very tall (NIS 35).
Throughout the meal we drank Chardonnay Special Reserve, a dry and pungent wine, of course, from the Tishbi cellars.
We left the restaurant with full stomachs and a warm glow, having enjoyed a delightful meal in historic surroundings with a friendly atmosphere and plenty of character.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
33 Hameyasdim, Zichron Ya’acov
Tel: (04) 629-0280
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