(photo credit: BEN YUSTER)
The sun was setting as we parked our car and started walking towards the beach. After a nice walk all the way to Al HaMaim, passing by children in bathing suits and families having ice-cream, we got to the old Herzlian restaurant which has joined forces with Chef Haviv Moshe. If the name sounds familiar, maybe it's because of his famous chef cousin, Aviv Moshe, who gave him his first cooking job in his own famous restaurant, Messa. After studying cooking in Hadassah College and working in Messa, Haviv won the "Young Chef" award in a global competition, and at the age of 29, joined Al Hamaim as the main chef. Let's just say that it is time for you to get to know his name, for his food and not his family tree, since it is out-of-this-world good.
The very nice waiter seated us on the balcony, facing the water. As its name promises, Al Hamaim feels like you're sitting right on water, and the cool evening breeze adds just the right touch. The first dish was small, and so beautiful that we did not want to ruin it by eating, but we caved in to our hunger and it paid off. It was salmon ceviche on top of crispy rice cubes with asparagus, green and red onions and a sauce so delicious we almost licked it off the plate. Next we got the Tuna caprese, cubes of tuna, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar. These two dishes added to the "on water" feel, and along with a fresh strawberry margarita and a beach view, it felt like the perfect Mediterranean dinner.
If the first two dishes were amazing, what can I say about this next one? Chicken pâté rolled up to little deep fried balls, with a crispy crust, sweet mango sauce, and crumble crumbs, absolutely dreamy. After enjoying the first courses, we went on to try the sushi menu. A combination of different rolls and sashimi arrived on a beautiful black plate, including goose breast, shrimps, tuna, salmon, salmon toro, tobiko eggs and much deliciousness. If that wasn't enough, next we got veal sweetbreads with smoked goose breast, on top of an Italian soup and eggplant cream, which had a whole different vibe to it, and felt like the perfect dish to have during a snow storm, sitting by the burning fireplace.
The next one kept the same feel, but took it to a surprising sophisticated direction - foie gras served on top of rosetta sauce, with walnuts, fresh figs and a big beautiful purple meringue cookie. A foie gras can easily be a much too heavy and hard-to-handle dish, but with all of the amazing dessert-like ingredients, eaten all at the same bite, according to the chef recommendation, it was heavenly.
With no room for the real desserts to follow, we decided to face the challenge and order them anyway. After enjoying our meal that much, how can we pass on the best part of dinner? First, an open glass jar with layers of fudge, crème patissiere, meringue crumbs and berries on top. Another one was a twist on the Arabic Knafe, with blood oranges syrup and fresh figs. My choice for the winning dessert was hands down the exotic crème Brulée served on mango soup, Yum.
Al Hamaim offers great service, a pleasant vibe, and most importantly, creative, delicious and varied food. Just take your car and drive to Herzlia's beach, you have to try this one.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.