Catalan fiesta

A new tapas bar in Tel Aviv brings the party atmosphere of Barcelona to this part of the Mediterranean. Hola!

Vicky Cristina (photo credit: Courtesy)
Vicky Cristina
(photo credit: Courtesy)
At first, the buzz around the new Tachana complex (the historic train station), located between the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood and the Mediterranean Sea, was that it would become a tourist trap. But a visit to the area one evening last week proved that it has become the new entertainment spot of Tel Aviv.
Tucked away in one of the corners is the new tapas restaurant and wine bar called Vicky Cristina, located in a spacious patio under an ancient rubber tree.
Vicky is the tapas restaurant, located on the right side of the patio, under the direction of chef Roi Harari. It is characterized by its intimate seating, soft background music and leisurely opening hours beginning in early afternoon.
Cristina is the wine bar, located on the other side of the patio, which opens every day at 7 p.m.
Here the seating is on high bar stools around a garden of sculpted mosaic-covered bars, inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s famous Park Goel in Barcelona. There is hot Spanish music, 120 different wines, flamenco dancing and great atmosphere.
Vicky’s food complements the wines served to Cristina’s patrons, and the wines are an appropriate accompaniment for the tapas served at Vicky. A way to enjoy two worlds – the tapas kitchen and the bar atmosphere – all at the same time.
Apparently there is also a delicatessen, where one can purchase some Spanish goodies such as cheeses, sausages, pickles and breads.
We sat in the Cristina area and immediately started partying. We asked to start with Cava, which was served promptly and got us into the mood. There were a few parties going on around us – many of them women (it seems there was a big game on that night). The men arrived later.
Then the tapas were brought to our table – one after the other.
The fried asparagus with chestnuts, artichoke and smoked almonds was superb. (NIS 32), and so was the queso frito con marmalada de Savoya, which is crunchy fried Buche goat cheese served over a marmalade of onions and tomatoes (NIS 26). It is one of the local favorites, and I can understand why.
Another sip of the Cava, and we went on to the ceviche de citron con tomatitos (NIS 26), which is raw fish cubes mixed with oranges, nut oil, cherry tomatoes and lemon. A very fresh, tangy dish. Another dish was the fillet of fish served with chickpeas and spinach stew (NIS 44). The local bread is smothered with olive oil and tomatoes, and there was another great dish of fried cauliflower with sour cream (NIS 12).
There are many meat dishes as well as seafood and vegetables, sausages, cheeses, bread sweets and bread dishes. We decided not to sample the meat dishes but took a break and watched the flamenco dancer, who set up her stage next to us. She returned a couple of times during the evening and looked more and more flushed as the evening progressed.
We took only one dessert – our favorite crème Catalane, which is very similar to the French crème brûlée, and was served with banana (NIS 21).
As they are tapas, all the dishes are small and leave you wanting more. The dishes kept coming.
At some point we stopped counting and joined the joyous atmosphere, chatting with people on our right and left, raising glasses and generally feeling life that was not so bad at all. The combination of great food, alcohol and hot Spanish music does create the perfect party mood.
Our very handsome and smiling barman, Assaf, offered us two chasers of whiskey to seal the evening, and we went out smiling and happy into the cold night and the car of a kind friend who had agreed to pick us up, as we were in no condition to drive. On our way out, we recognized some celebrities partying in what seems to quickly be developing into the new hot spot of Tel Aviv’s nightlife. So if you’re looking for a place to celebrate (New Year’s is around the corner), pay a visit to go to the two ladies. You are guaranteed to come out happy.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Not kosher. Vicky Cristina, tapas and wine bar, building 7 at the Tachana complex, Koifman 1, Neveh Tzedek. Open seven days a week from noon until the last customer. Tel: 057-944-4144