Country style meets urban chic

A take-off on the old kibbutz dining hall, Hadar Ha’ochel serves delicious food in delightful surroundings.

Hadar Ha’ochel 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hadar Ha’ochel 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
What is Israeli cuisine? Some may say it’s humous and felafel, while others may assert it’s chicken schnitzel and burekas. Whatever your interpretation of what Israeli cuisine is, it will probably include some Middle Eastern dishes, as well as a few Eastern European ones, spiced with several Balkan and American influences.
Some may argue that Israel is too young to have a cuisine of its own, but chef Omer Miller would not agree. He seems to have a very clear vision of Israeli cuisine, and you can taste his interpretation at his restaurant, Hadar Ha’ochel (The Dining Hall). While the restaurant itself was inspired by the kibbutz dining hall and includes some of its characteristic features, the fare is a far cry from the original lackluster offerings.
Hadar Ha’ochel is a multicultural Israeli restaurant that serves a wide variety of Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Arab and Jerusalem style dishes. The restaurant is located in the Performing Arts Center in Tel Aviv, the previous location of the FoodArt restaurant.
Miller uses local produce – a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, fish and meat – together with Mediterranean and European cooking techniques. The menu includes familiar home-style dishes, accented by Miller’s precise techniques and presentation, and tinged with a twist that makes them his own.
We went to Hadar Ha’ochel for breakfast, a meal served there only on Fridays. The idea of an Israeli breakfast in a kibbutz-like atmosphere – noisy and informal – evoked nostalgic feelings. We hoped, however, that the food would not remind us of days past – and we weren’t disappointed. Despite the fact that this is a chef’s restaurant, the food was honest, unpretentious and delicious.
We started with two cocktails: the mimosa and the local version called Rimona, a mix of vodka, soda and pomegranate juice, which was sweet and refreshing and made for a great start.(NIS 28).
One can choose an Israeli breakfast that includes a bread basket, cheeses, olives, tuna salad, eggs any style, fresh vegetable salad, rimonade (a lemonade with pomegranate), jam and coffee (NIS 52). You can ask for refills of the cheeses and dips if you wish. Other breakfast choices include shakshuka (NIS 42), made with three eggs and a choice of ingredients; the burekas breakfast (NIS 28); pancakes with halva (NIS 28); or their delicious version of muesli (NIS 32).
We chose one Israeli breakfast and the shakshuka with eggplant, feta cheese and tehina, which was served with fresh bread and vegetable salad and was delicious and just spicy enough. We also had a taste of the muesli, which was crunchy and had lots of fruit. The food was enough for three, but the two of us managed to finish it.
The design of the restaurant is modern and meticulous, with a lovely interior of calm, neutral colors. It was named Most Friendly to Kids last year due to its informal ambience, the kid-friendly staff, the large courtyard outside that allows for a relatively safe area for kids to run on their own while the parents can watch them from their table on the veranda, and the special activities offered to kids on weekends.
Hadar Ha’ochel is ideal for people going to the museum, the opera or the theater, before or after the show. The fast and efficient service, easy access and reasonable prices make it a favorable choice among locals and tourists alike.
Hadar Ha’ochel , 23 Sderot Shaul Hamelech, Tel Aviv. Tel: 0579-443- 036. Not kosher. Open Sunday- Saturday, noon to midnight. Breakfast served only on Fridays.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.