A great trip

Tel Aviv's Caserol serves up Tripolitan and Iraqi cuisine - day and night and kosher 'round the clock.

Just across the street from the old Eden Cinema and down from Tel Aviv's very first kiosk, sits Caserol, an uber-cute space serving up authentic Tripolitan and Iraqi cuisine. Unlike the more common "worker's restaurants" that offer similar menus, Caserol is the result of professional chefs and stays open late - an important distinction considering it's location in Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek quarters. My always willing, always beautiful dining partner and I were instantly charmed - before even setting foot into the place. With neighborhood cats comfortably nestled into the planters demarcating the outdoor seating area, the atmosphere was well established and continued on to the inside with trendy dark wood accents. All are welcome to partake as Caserol is kosher. Although if you're a vegetarian or would be disappointed with the unfortunate lack of goat's cheese (which would pair so wonderfully with some of the dishes), you may not be in seventh heaven as we were. One of the neatest aspects to this place is that since the menu is overwhelmingly stew-based, it naturally lends itself to a meal of many tastes. This might be less enticing to the business lunch crowd whowould rather eat and run - which they will with a most enjoyable meal at that. For the evening crowd, your best option is to head to Caserol with some time on your hands to enjoy the ambiance and flavors - particularly because this ethnic cuisine is nary available past the close of the workday. Now celebrating their first anniversary - an impressive accomplishment for an eatery - Caserol has made available a special menu (which has options from the regular menu available in English), with a celebratory bent. For NIS 160 per couple, you'll enjoy one another's company (hopefully) and wonderful tastes (for sure). Two glasses of Arak; two choices of soup (sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke, beet kube and much more); a mezze course (including: beets in mustard and honey, chickpeas and chard and cream of eggplant); four main courses (from a large selection that includes: a traditional Tripolitan beef stew, white beans and potatoes in a chard sauce, meat and potatoes in a red sauce, a pumpkin and pea stew with chicken and beef and semolina dumplings with lamb fat, garlic and spices in a chard sauce); and, to finish, traditional black coffee, Tripolitan herbal tea (a superb concoction of cloves, cinnamon, rose, ginger and cardamom) and a surprisingly moist semolina and almond cake. Just be sure to leave time for digestion. When you're not accustomed to such food you can be giving your stomach a real handful. Delicious though. Caserol is located at 3 Lilienblum St., Tel Aviv, (077) 544-8004. It is open Sun. to Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to Shabbat and Sat. from 7 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.; kosher. Reservations are recommended. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.