(photo credit: PR)
Housed in a Templer building in the Sarona Compound in Tel Aviv, Wilhemina (named after one of the first settlers in Sarona) is an intimate place, and its unadulterated charm makes you feel right at home. The twostory building is beautifully renovated, offering a large dining area on the ground floor and an impressive bar-lounge on the second floor. There’s also a lovely outdoor terrace in the back.
The extensive menu features fish, seafood, meat and pasta dishes.
Chef Haim Allouche has used his experience as a restaurateur in Tel Aviv to combine high culinary standards with a hominess and an authenticity less prevalent in Israel’s metropolis. The menu is eclectic but with a Mediterranean touch, and it’s clear that careful thought is put into each dish to produce esthetic, creative and delicious results. The beverage menu is extensive as well, listing not only Israeli boutique wines and Italian, French and Spanish products but also blended, malt, Irish whiskeys and bourbon. A connoisseur’s paradise.
Leaving the choice of dishes entirely to Allouche was a good idea, as it freed us from the responsibility of having to decide – always a problem in a restaurant that offers a very varied menu as Wilhemina does.
For starters, the red tuna sashimi (NIS 52) was a culinary delight, both visually and taste-wise.
Equally good was the salmon tartare (NIS 42), which was extremely fresh and flavored with a Mediterranean influence that was refreshing. The house bread was a perfect way to scoop up every last bit from the plate. This was followed by thin slices of seared goose breast (NIS 57). I really liked the simplicity with which it was prepared. There were no other components vying for attention. It was just well cooked and the texture was spot on, a little crisp on the skin/edge and soft on the inside. All the first courses were tasty, well seasoned with fresh ingredients, and the portions were generous.
With deft and friendly service, our first course was cleared and the main course soon followed. We began with the beef tenderloin (NIS 135), which was very tender and cooked perfectly to order. My dining partner must have said “This is just a great cut of meat” at least three times. The mushrooms and sweet potato puree were a great addition that complemented the flavor of the beef very well. This dish was followed by the homemade gnocchi (NIS 74). It was delicious. The gnocchi were light and fluffy like satin pillows in my mouth. Again, the ingredients were very fresh and complemented each other very well.
We ordered hot drinks and took a breather. For dessert, both the chef and the wonderfully enthusiastic manager, Dan Ittah, insisted on sending out the baked cheesecake for us to taste (NIS 42).
It was the perfect balance of sweet and creamy. I enjoyed every single bite. I honestly ate tiny little bites of it at a time just so I could make the experience last longer. We also tried the chocolate truffle cake (NIS 42). This devilishly decadent cake was moist and delicious.
The food served was not what one would normally prepare at home, but Wilhemina feels comfortable and homey. The restaurant exudes charm, and it is evident that the owners are not just creating a restaurant but a destination, with regulars who come in as much for the warmth and the friendship as for the food.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
24 Rav Aluf David Elazar, Tel Aviv