Fresh from the market

With Swedish and Iraqi influences, along with excellent Israeli techniques, Gedera 26 provides an eclectic and delectable menu.

Gedera 26 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gedera 26
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There was a framed photograph above our table that featured the portraits of two gentlemen – one, a Middle Eastern-looking man in a keffiyeh, and the other a European man wearing a leather cap. That served as a conversation piece as we waited for our waiter at the tiny (and terrific) new restaurant on Gedera 26, near the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. As chef and owner Amir Kronenberg later told us, the gentlemen in the photograph were his grandfathers. “I am half Iraqi and half Swedish,” he said. “And 100 percent Israeli.” It shows in the food.
At lunch time, Gedera 26 serves food that is inspired by the chef’s childhood memories. “My childhood food was between Stockholm and Baghdad,” he says. So very appropriately, the most popular dishes at Gedera 26 are Swedish meat balls served with mashed potatoes and red berry jam (NIS 54), kubbe soup (NIS 34) and chicken schnitzel (NIS 38). All of which seem to satisfy hungry shoppers who pop in for a quick meal, as well as neighbors who miss their mother’s lunches and come for takeout.
On Fridays, Gedera 26 becomes a delicatessen, and locals pick up their favorite foods for Shabbat. But at night, the room is transformed into a charming Soho-like restaurant of around 30 seats inside and a few more on the porch, with Kronenberg doing his magic in an open kitchen while entertaining the guests seated at the bar and keeping an eye on everyone else.
We arrived at around 8:30 p.m. and the place wasn’t quite full, but three men sitting at the bar were having the time of their life. They offered their advice about the dishes we were considering, but there was no need – we had a very attentive waiter who, together with the chef, more or less decided for us – and we didn’t really object.
The evening menu is based on fresh ingredients – a lot of vegetables, sea food and some meat. To start with, we got an array of antipasti that changes depending on what’s for sale in the market (NIS 24). The salads were fresh and well prepared, and we loved the Moroccan (or was it Iraqi?) bread.
We had what could only be described as the perfect crispy shrimps, coated with the chef’s own secret mixture, a dish of butcher’s cut (NIS 32) made to perfection and ceviche of sea fish (NIS 26) that was just right. I wanted to try the fish, and that day there was a baked corvina fillet served over a lovely version of shrimp risotto, much lighter than the classic one, with lots of Iraqi pickled lemon and lemon peel, basil, mint and tomato seeds, that felt appropriate for the location (NIS 88). I loved it.
As always, by the end of the meal we were too full for dessert, so we just had mint tea and tasted the locally made Malabi (NIS 22), which was very good.
Some of the items on the menu, written and executed by Kronenberg, change according to what’s fresh in the market. The Swedish meatballs and the Iraqi kube are always there, the fresh salads and seafood specialties are always there, and the warm bread is always available. If you go there at night, you’re bound to encounter some happy diners sitting on the stools next to the kitchen, drinking wine and chatting away. We had a great time at Gedera 26 and are certain we’ll go back soon, maybe this time for lunch.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher Open Mon- Thur, 11:30 a.m. – last diner. Fri. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Friday open as a delicatessen.
Gedera 26 (corner of Hillel, at the entrance to the Carmel Market), Tel Aviv. (03) 510-0164