Dining review: In good kosher company

Now you can keep kosher and still enjoy mouthwatering meat in Israel.

grilled meat 88 (photo credit: )
grilled meat 88
(photo credit: )
Now you can keep kosher and still enjoy mouthwatering meat in Israel. Take the kosher Meat and Wine Co. Its reputation is so strong that on a recent visit, most of diners we saw at the crowded restaurant were without kippot. Opened 18 months ago, Herzliya Pituah's Meat and Wine Co. is part of a worldwide chain established in 2000 in Africa, Australia and Dubai. The chain is known for sparing no expense in decor, and local architect Gady Halperin has created a tasteful, welcoming and comfortable interior, with a spectacular bar occupying the center of the dining area. The professional bartender was mixing drinks with great gusto. Our waiter reeled off a choice of cocktails, but we stuck to habit and went for the classic margaritas. It was a pleasure watching them being mixed with top-quality ingredients and, although a touch too sweet, they were exceptional and beautifully served. Sipping our cocktails, we perused the menus (available in Hebrew and English). Though renowned for the quality of its wet-aged kosher selected beef, the restaurant also offers fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Chef Yaniv Eden has been with the restaurant since day one, when he started as sous-chef, taking over as chef in February. The influence of South African manager Gerald Geyer, formerly of The Black Steer, is evident, with two favorites from the mother country - boerwors (grilled beef sausage) and biltong (cured beef) - featured. As first courses - and after consultation with our extremely friendly waiter - we decided on the tuna tartare (tuna is flown in fresh twice weekly) and the pan-fried mushrooms. The portobello and champignon mushrooms were hot, fresh and pleasantly firm. The tuna tartare was exquisite. The wasabi mayonnaise wasn't too strong, while still piquant enough to complement the tuna. It was difficult to choose a main course from the tempting variety. We finally settled on veal spare ribs, which according to our waiter are more tender than the beef, and on lamb shanks (listed as osso bucco on the Hebrew menu). The veal ribs - slow cooked in a secret marinade and then flame-grilled - turned out to be so tender that the flesh just fell off the bone. I would love to know what the secret marinade is, as it greatly enhances the meat without detracting from its natural flavour. No Belgian could fault the excellent chips served alongside, which came out crisp and not at all oily. The lamb shanks were tasty and plentiful, but not exceptional. I must admit that our waiter did try and dissuade us by reminding us that the restaurant is famous for its meats on the grill and not necessarily for its oven-baked dishes. We chose a glass of Gamla Merlot to accompany the meat. The wine list is extensive, made up mostly of award-winning, moderately priced local and international wines listed according to area. When it came time for dessert, we passed on the heavier options such as nougat chocolate mousse, warm chocolate fondante and apple pie. Instead, we went for the lighter sweets, settling on the sorbet selection (flavors change on a regular basis), and the coconut cream panna cotta with passion fruit. Both turned out to be excellent choices, refreshingly perfect after a heavy meal. This is a great place for nearly everyone, from a couple to a large party (two VIP rooms seating nine to 12 people for private parties, conferences or meetings occupy the first floor). Not only is the food of the highest quality, but the wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and their smiles are genuine. They really seem to enjoy their work. In fact, I remarked to manager Tomer Harbon that there seemed to be an inordinately large number of waiters. "Since we do aim for excellence in all aspects, we have more wait staff per table than most restaurants" he said. The service indeed reflected this. Prices are moderate for a top-quality restaurant. First courses range from NIS 22 to NIS 42; salads from NIS 36 to NIS 42. Main courses run from NIS 55 to NIS 155 for the 600-gram ribeye steak. There is a children's menu at NIS 32. A business lunch is served from noon to 5 p.m. The restaurant is nonsmoking, with a smoking area on the patio. The Meat and Wine Co, Rehov Shenkar 16, Herzlyia Pituah Industrial Area, (09) 956-7006. Open daily (except Friday and Saturday) from noon to midnight. Kosher