Interesting and innovative

The dairy restaurant in the Tishbi Winery Visitors’ Center is well worth the visit.

 Tishbi speciality: handmade fish sausages 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tishbi speciality: handmade fish sausages 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The name Tishbi is well established as a winery that produces some of Israel’s finest wines but is less well known for the quality of the food served in its dairy restaurant, which is situated next to the visitors’ center in the Binyamina winery.
When we arrive, we see the tables are set out under the vines, which spread their tendrils over the rustic trellis work overhead. It’s a typical hot August day, but there’s no need to huddle indoors with an air conditioner. A cool breeze is blowing through the outdoor restaurant that is situated high up in the hills around Binyamina, making it a very comfortable place to sit, even on this scorching day.
We are greeted by Golan Tishbi, the owner of the restaurant and a fifth-generation descendant of the founders of the vineyard, which was established in 1882. In 1984 Golan’s father, Jonathan, decided to start making their own wine.
“It was quite a struggle in the beginning,” says Golan “People were far less used to drinking wine than they are today when there’s so much awareness of wine and how to drink and enjoy it.”
Nowadays the Tishbi Winery has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. But what about the food? A year ago Golan, one of the three siblings who run the business, hired a new chef, Gunter Biederman, to upgrade the dairy menu. The results have been so good that people are coming from far and wide to sample the food. A few tables away from us sat a family who had come for the second time in a month from Jerusalem and another who had traveled from Beit Shemesh.
Biederman is a young Austrian chef who has some interesting and innovative ideas about food. His wife is Israeli, and they live in Zichron Ya’acov with their three children.
Golan is very happy with the new partnership.
“We have the same dream,” he says. “Making the best food possible.”
As befits a well-known winery, since we could not decide whether to drink red or white wine with our meal, Golan opened a bottle of each and we were able to sample both a Tishbi Estate Chardonnay, 2010 and a Viognier, 2011.(both wines NIS 55).
As it was a very hot day, both bottles nestled in buckets of ice.
The salads that came automatically as a first course were rather different from the standard ones, and this made a welcome change. There were haricot beans with chopped red onion in a spicy dressing, baked kohlrabi segments and warm roasted courgette (zucchini) slices with a sweet silan-based dressing. I especially liked the fact that very little oil was in evidence on the salads (NIS 40).
The speciality of the house are the handmade fish sausages that are Biederman’s pride and joy, and they are indeed delicious. They are made from fresh salmon and cod and encased in some kind of edible material. Very tasty and very original, they came served on a bed of sliced mushrooms and sautéed chard, although the vegetables vary with the season. The dish costs NIS 70 and can be eaten as a starter or a main course.
Other starters are eggplant with goat’s cheese (NIS 32), antipasti (NIS 42) and a cheese platter that can vary from NIS 48 to NIS 88.
For the main course I chose seared tuna (NIS 110) – thin and rare slices of the freshest fish, served with a divine pepper brandy sauce which probably owed its exceptional taste to the lashings of cream that went into making it. My companion chose the grilled fillets of sea bream (NIS 95), which was perfectly cooked without being over or underdone, served with home-made pumpkin ravioli and another creamy sauce, this one made from green peas.
Occasionally a yellowed vine leaf dropped onto our table, adding to the bucolic flavor of the meal.
Tasting the two wines more or less alternately produced a warm sense of bonhomie, so that when Ruth the pastry chef appeared at our table to suggest some desserts, we felt it would have been churlish to refuse.
We sampled the hazelnut cream mousse, decorated with Chantilly cream, and a layered tiramisu which was especially welcome, as it was not too sweet. An excellent cup of coffee (NIS 11) and some of the French Valrohana pralines (NIS 4.50) sold in the winery rounded off the meal.
Golan confides that they are aiming to create a special atmosphere in the Tishbi restaurant.
His wife, Karen, is a potter and has made all the rustic serving dishes coming out of the kitchen. Together with the wholesome food, they help to contribute to the Provencal feel they would like to evoke. After enjoying both the food and the wine, one could say they have definitely succeeded.
Incidentally, the name “Tishbi” was suggested to Golan’s greatgrandfather, Michael Chamiletski, by Chaim Nachman Bialik who visited the vineyard in 1925. It is a Hebrew acronym for “a resident of Shefaya in Israel,” as that is where the first vines were planted.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Kosher, dairy (Supervision, Zichron Ya’acov Rabbinate)
Road 652 between Zichron Ya’acov and Binyamina
Tel: (04) 628-8195
Sun-Thurs. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday until 3 p.m.