(photo credit: Courtesy)
When the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art opened two years ago, it was hailed as a success, complete with modern exhibition halls and excellent permanent collections.
One of the only things missing was a good quality restaurant to match the likes of world-class museums that have their own exclusive restaurants such as The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.
That all changed at the end of this summer when the very modern and very swanky Pastel restaurant opened its doors in the new Herta and Paul Amir Building.
The contemporary bistro is nestled on the side of the new wing and includes a large balcony overlooking the museum’s sculpture garden. While designed as an integral part of the new building, Pastel is not just intended for visitors of the museum. It is open to everyone and has a separate entrance from the museum.
The head chef at Pastel is Thibault Bera, who worked as the personal chef to the French ambassador to Israel for four years. Bera has also worked in top restaurants around the world, where he gained a lot of expert knowledge.
When my dining partner and I went to visit the new restaurant, we were instantly impressed by the design, which includes three dining areas, all with their own distinct seating arrangement and color scheme.
We sat in the main indoor dining area with a view to the open kitchen that is set behind a large bar that takes up a large proportion of the space.
Our waitress for the evening was very knowledgeable and made sure that we made informed decisions about what to order.
For starters, I went for fish tartare (NIS 56), which included cucumber, avocado, mango, capers and spinach. The freshness of the ingredients was very apparent, and all the flavors worked well together to create a winning combination.
My companion decided upon the asparagus with pommes dauphines (NIS 52). Asparagus is one of my favorite starters, and the offering at Pastel didn’t disappoint one bit. All the ingredients were beautifully presented and cooked to perfection.
The main course menu was very extensive, and it took us a while to settle on what to order. After a long consultation with the waitress, I decided on leg of duck served with green vegetables, roasted lettuce fritters and mashed potatoes (NIS 88). When the dish arrived at the table, I thought that maybe the waitress had got confused and brought us an exhibit from the museum. It really did look like a work of art, with the relatively large leg sitting in the middle of the plate and the variety of vegetables carefully placed around it. Thankfully, it tasted just as good as it looked. Not only was the meat soft and succulent, but the three accompaniments were all tasty in their own right.
My companion went for sea bass with asparagus, radishes and pomegranate (NIS 88), which looked no less impressive on the plate. This was a more simple dish, but it was still packed with flavor, and the fish was cooked beautifully.
For dessert, we shared a selection of mini desserts, which included macaroons, lemon pie, mille feuilles, madeleines and canelé (NIS 42). Again, we thought that maybe the large, decorative plate was intended for inside the museum because it looked so good. It was a great sharing dessert because there were two each of a diverse selection of mini treats that all had something unique about them. I personally loved the lemon pie, while my companion couldn’t get enough of the delicious macaroons.
It makes sense that a restaurant attached to an art museum would be well designed, and Pastel is just that. However, where Pastel really delivers is the food. Chef Bera has worked hard to create a diverse menu with a touch of French class.
With prices that are similar or even lower than many of its competitors on the high-end modern bistro scene, Pastel offers good value for money. With a great atmosphere, excellent service and top-quality food, it is well worth a visit.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art 27 Shaul Hamelech, Tel Aviv
Open every day from noon until midnight