A touch of class

When it comes to the many elements of a positive dining experience, the Cordelia in Jaffa is a case in point.

Cordelia (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tucked away in an old Crusader-era building in one of Jaffa’s hidden alleyways, Cordelia is at the forefront of the Israeli culinary scene. Named after the favorite daughter of Shakespeare’s King Lear to evince a sense of royalty and love, Cordelia is home to creative chef Nir Zook.
And when it comes to the many elements of a positive dining experience, the place is a case in point.
If first impressions count for restaurants, Cordelia’s regal atmosphere, eclectic furniture and imposing Jaffa architecture promise a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
The place was designed by Zook, whose sense of humor and creativity go beyond food to spatial design. Tall candelabras, silverware, plates, glasses, sculptures – each different from the next – show the care that Zook took in designing his establishment.
The menu is based on French cuisine and enlivened with Mediterranean accents and the freshest possible local produce.
Most important, the menu is not just a copy of that found in dozens of other restaurants. Despite the rather confusing names given to various items, the menu has a personality of its own, taking the diner on a culinary adventure.
To show off his talent, Zook offers a tasting menu that changes monthly. It consists of eight small dishes in which the chef gives a taste of the restaurant’s most fascinating dishes. For a fixed price of NIS 250, this is one of Tel Aviv’s finest dining experiences.
My dining companion and I began with an endive and smoked salmon salad. Endive is a notoriously difficult vegetable for those unfamiliar with it; though fragile in appearance, it has a rather bitter taste. Here, the endive was finely sliced and served in a mound with salmon, almonds and a sauce that seemed to mellow the bitterness without submerging it entirely.
Next up was a green vegetable soup that included kube stuffed with goat cheese. It was absolutely delicious.
Both dishes were very good, but it was the truffles tortellini that truly blew us away. An absolute must-eat dish, it titillated our senses, leaving us giddy for what was to come.
For the main course, we were treated to gray mullet and shrimps in fig leaves sauce. It was exquisite in presentation and flavor, and the delicateness of the fish was a good contrast to the other, stronger flavors.
This was followed by a rump steak on grilled tomatoes and gnocchi. The whole thing was beautifully executed, and the meat was very moist, with delicate flavors that added a wonderful freshness.
We ordered hot drinks and took another breather. After the savory, we were well satiated but still didn’t refuse the sweets when offered. We were each presented with an inspired dessert plate, which consisted of bite-sized portions of cheesecake, lemon pie, chocolate-covered meringue and truffle. This proved to be a brilliant combination that our overstuffed stomachs seemed happy enough to play host to.
I went to Cordelia with pretty high expectations and, much to my surprise, they were met, perhaps even exceeded. The staff is passionate about food. New recipes are frequently born in Zook’s kitchen. He has a way of mixing strong flavors and soft textures so that no one ingredient overpowers another. So when you’re looking to combine an elegant, gourmet \atmosphere with nearly faultless service, you’ll find that Cordelia has it covered.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Not kosher
1 Simtat Hazhuhit, Jaffa
(03) 518-4668