Bistro by the shuk

Fresh bread and fabulous wine are only part of this sensational dining experience.

bistro by shuk 298 (photo credit: Natan Dvir)
bistro by shuk 298
(photo credit: Natan Dvir)
Aromas of fresh bread, herbs and spices waft through the air as you take a seat at the outdoor terrace of Carmela Bistro adjacent to the Carmel Market, along with the sound of the outdoor vendors singing and competing with one another as they chat and laugh with customers. . Carmela Bistro (Carmela BaNahala) is situated in a beautifully restored building in the style of the late 1920s. With colorful tile floors and high ceilings, this comfortable restaurant is divided into numerous dining areas where patrons can enjoy plenty of privacy while savoring superb food. In Europe, restaurants found near the local markets serve what is called cuisine du march , that is menus based on what's available that day. This Tel Aviv bistro operates according to the same principle. "The fresh seasonal produce at the market inspires my dishes," says chef and owner Daniel Zach. The selections are comprised of locally farmed fresh ingredients, and this vision extends to the wine list. All the wines come from local wineries. The menu is modern Mediterranean emphasizing fresh bread, meat and fish. Dining at Carmela Bistro is a cooperate work between chef and patrons. The latter are handed a questionaire regarding their likes and dislikes, and Zach presents them with a surprise meal created accordingly to those specifications. For those who don't like surprises showing up on the table, set menus are provided. We did provide our waiter with our rather picky preferences and were rewarded with three interesting dishes as starters: a refreshing herb salad in lemon juice, olive oil and roasted cashew nuts (NIS 22); fish tartar with onion, tomato, yogurt sauce and fried seaweed (NIS 52); and an excellent grilled eggplant, feta cheese and green leaves salad in honey, cumin seeds and pine nuts (NIS 34). For main courses we had a generous dish of saut ed shrimps and scallops in saffron, cream and pastis sauce (NIS 85). The combination of flavors left a good impression - a perfectly paired complement for the glass of Chardonnay Odem from the Golan Heights winery. Next we tried grilled sea fish served with tomatoes, olives, pickled lemon, herbs salsa, and Persian rice (NIS 93) - an amazing dish with plenty of aromas and flavors which sit harmoniously on the palate. The options for vegetarians are quite narrow, yet looked promising with potato gnocchi in dried tomato sauce, oregano, seaweed and mozzarella cheese, or melted goat cheese coated in black sesame with honey, in plum and pine-nut sauce (NIS 74). Desserts were beautifully presented on a platter for two (NIS 55) with almond cream tart with seasonal fruit; chocolate and cheese cake; mini cr me brulee; and chocolate brandy marquise filled with nut croquant and orange sauce. They were all sinfully good. Carmela Bistro. 46 Rehov Hatavor, Tel Aviv. Tel (03) 516-1417 (not kosher)