Afternoon delight

Although Carmela Ba'nahala offers a diverse daily menu, the popular TA bistro is noted for its elaborate brunch choices.

Afternoon delight 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Afternoon delight 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘When breakfast is too early and lunch is too late, brunch is the only civilized thing to do,’ wrote Australian food editor Jill Dupleix in her first (and excellent) cookbook New Food. I agree. Brunch is my favorite meal and my favorite time to entertain, but this time I wanted to enjoy it without having to clean up after.
Brunch in Tel Aviv
Brunch in Tel Aviv
Carmela is famous for its brunches. While at most places, what you get is more or less the same – a big Israeli breakfast that is served late with a drink – at Carmela, the choices are different.
Carmela Ba’nahala is a well-loved Tel Aviv culinary establishment. The bistro, which took its name from the nearby Carmel Market and Nahalat Binyamin, the famous adjacent street and street fair, is chef Daniel Zach’s brainchild. He decided to open it in one of the most attractive buildings in the area, Beit Ha’amudim, which dates back to the early days of the city.
The bistro was always a dream of Zach’s, who looked for a place in the area while shopping for produce for his other restaurants. Here he established a bistro cuisine that is both local Mediterranean and international, and benefits from the proximity of the Carmel Market.
The restaurant has a number of dining rooms, adorned with handdrawn tiles and mirrors; private rooms and niches, arches and columns at the entrance, hanging plants and knick-knacks that give the place a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
A shared tasting experience is a specialty at Carmela Bistro, but we went for brunch. For a set price of NIS 85 per person, one gets coffee; fresh juice; a bread basket with a variety of homemade pretzels and bread served with anchovy butter and homemade jam; a lovely selection of starters, all made with the freshest vegetables, including a grated tomato dip with horseradish and olive oil; egg salad with mustard, mayonnaise, tomatoes and onions (great); roasted chili peppers on a bed of soft goat cheese, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice (my favorite); a fresh herb salad chopped and seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and roasted cashew nuts; sweet tomato slices served with salty white cheese, olive oil, coriander, chili and black olives; and homemade ekra (that is very different from store bought ekra both in taste and texture) served with roasted vegetables. I hope I didn’t forget anything, although I am quite sure that the starters may differ according to what’s in the market that day.
After we tackled all of that, we were offered seconds that were hard to refuse. Then came our choice of main course. There is New York style smoked salmon pretzel with cream cheese with the local touch of arugula, olive oil and onions; a corned beef sandwich served with vegetables, mustard and Russian dressing; or one of many types of egg dishes.
I always go for the local ingredients, so I chose a pan of fried eggs with young spinach leaves, basil, fresh tomatoes, garlic and feta cheese. It was everything I hoped for.
My friend chose an omelet with chopped seafood and herbs that was good but not great.
We each had a house cocktail and ended the meal with just coffee so we could get up and walk among the many stalls of artsy-craftsy Nahalat Binyamin on that sunny Friday afternoon.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Carmela Ba’nahala, Beit Ha’amudim, 46 Tavor St. corner of 14 Rambam St. Tel Aviv.
Tel: (03) 516-1417.
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri and Sat: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m
Brunch is served on weekdays from noon to 6 p.m.. Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday from 11 a.m.– 1 p.m.
There is an option for private meals for 12 to 38 guests in a variety of private rooms. Not kosher.