A diner’s delight at the Dan

A haven for delicious and original food combinations, you won’t find any humous or French fries at 99 Hayarkon.

Fish 521 (photo credit: Courtesy of 99 Hayarkon)
Fish 521
(photo credit: Courtesy of 99 Hayarkon)
If you’re looking for fine dining in an intimate and elegant atmosphere, 99 Hayarkon in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv is the place to go. It’s quiet and refined, with seating for about 40 people, extra-kind lighting and hovering waiters tending to your every need.
Whether it’s to take your order, refill your wine glass or be on hand with an instant glass of water for a thirsty patron, they are there, melting into the background and obvious only when you need them.
We sampled the offerings on a recent evening in Tel Aviv and were extremely taken with the soothing ambience, the marvelous service and the delicious and original food combinations.
We were greeted by the manager, Florin Abramescu, with the magic words “Can I get you a drink?” My usual pre-dinner aperitif is more often than not a gin and tonic, and I can often judge a restaurant’s potential by how they present this perennial favorite. This one got off to an extra good start. I was asked what gin I would like, and I plumped for Gordon’s, as it was actually the only one I could remember. It was nearperfect but lacking a slice of lemon, a serious oversight. My companion indulged in a single malt whiskey with an unpronounceable name, but he seemed happy with it.
Before any food arrived, a waiter came round with a tray of crispy rolls and whole wheat crackers, together with a dish of olive oil and dark balsamic vinegar. To allay hunger pangs, one could dip the bread in this and enjoy the rich and wonderfully fruity flavor of the topquality olive oil.
For a pre-hors d’oeuvre taster, we were brought a modest sample of creamy pate de foie topped with a small toasted slice of fruit loaf – an inspired combination.
For my first course, I chose pickled sardine with potato salad and coddled egg (NIS 47). In fact, it was a rather close relation to roll-mop herring, albeit with a more distinctive and less vinegary flavor, but I felt the name was slightly misleading.
However, it was tasty and I didn’t regret the choice. My husband, as usual, did better with a mouthwatering slice of grilled foie gras served with a rich wine sauce, date puree and jalapeno peppers (NIS 72).
It had a slightly sweet crispy coating and a soft inside and was scrumptious.
The wine was a 2009 blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Verdun from the Castel Winery and was rich and flavorful without being heavy, a wine for all seasons (NIS 266).
My main course was pan-seared beef fillet (NIS 169), which came with port sauce, wild forest mushrooms and roast potatoes. It was a generous portion grilled exactly as I had requested, medium to well done. But on reflection, the meat was so tender that medium would probably have been better. I found two fresh sprouts lurking behind the potatoes and did an Oliver Twist, asking for more.
Another three arrived for which I was duly grateful.
My husband’s lamb entrecote (NIS 175) was also delicious, another generous amount, crispy outside and butter soft inside. I especially liked the accompanying vegetables – an unusual puree of white beans, roasted beetroot and a few green broad beans for color.
Other possible main courses included roasted sea bass with mangold and artichoke puree for NIS 109, and a vegetarian option of pasta with mushrooms and truffles for NIS 69. The choices for both first and main courses are very limited and not run-of-the-mill. You won’t find any humous or French fries on this menu.
The dessert menu was even shorter than the other two; and if you take off fruit and sorbet, the only other offerings were black chocolate soufflé (NIS 43), apple cassata with granola streusel (NIS 43) and strawberry mille feuilles (NIS 43). The latter was really excellent; the pastry was very light and crisp and far from the commercial puff pastry one usually gets with this dessert. Even the cream tasted better than the standard parve creams usually do.
We also sampled the pink grapefruit and date sorbet, both refreshing and original (NIS 41).
We left the restaurant with a very satisfied feeling of bien-etre, having experienced a truly outstanding culinary and social evening. Kudos to the hotel chef, Oved Alfia, the restaurant chef, Yehuda Arjuan, and especially to Florin Abramescu, who ensures that everything runs like clockwork and makes the welcome an especially warm one.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
99 Hayarkon
Dan Hotel, Tel Aviv