Kosher on the coast

At Gazpacho in Ashkelon’s Holiday Inn, the familiar fare is high end and served with style.

Gazpacho restaurant in Ashkelon 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gazpacho restaurant in Ashkelon 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
You go to some restaurants for the food; others for the location. Gazpacho falls into the second category, but the food is good as well. Located right on the oceanfront in Ashkelon, you could hardly ask for a better setting. In this Mediterranean bistro, run by chef Guy Peretz, patrons are greeted by a welcoming ambience, modern decor and a spacious dining room. It’s clear that Peretz is a colorful character on the culinary scene, and he gives the impression of someone who has dedicated his life to good food and wine.
The kosher menu is quite extensive, with a wide array of salads, pastas, fish and meat dishes.
We began our meal by trying the sweet duet (NIS 43), crispy sweet potato cubes with champignon and portobello mushroms stir-fried in sweet chili sauce. This well-prepared and notably fresh beginning was accompanied by a warm loaf of nutty wheat bread on a wooden cutting board.
Being South African and having grown up with traditional sweet meat dishes such as Babotie, I was pleasantly surprised by the Moroccan pastille (NIS 44). Regarded as one of Peretz’s signature dishes, it consisted of a sweet, crispy Moroccan cigar filled with chunks of spring chicken, nuts, almonds and raisins with a hint of cardamon and ginger on a bed of cherry tomato and brandy jam. The blend of sweet and spicy ingredients was perfectly balanced, making it a delicious reminder of home.
For the main course, we had the Gazpacho special for two (NIS 199), which consisted of aged entrecote yakitori, grilled spring chicken and lamb kebab. The entrecote itself was fine, though nothing too juicy to write home about. The kebabs were nicely spiced, and the chimichurri sauce accompanying the meat was really good, not too garlicky or lemony. The dish came with French fries, but I can’t help thinking that some vegetables or rice would have been a good way to vary the sides.
For the everyman looking for a classy night out, Gazpacho is a solid choice. The food is high-end ordinary fare, served with style. Don’t expect adventure or exotic foods you haven't tried before. Do expect food you know, and expect it to taste great.
For the Seder, chef Peretz is offering a traditional holiday dinner, complete with blessings from a rabbi, a choice of starters, main dishes and desserts to meet different tastes, for both Ashkenazi and Sephardi (at the Ashkelon Holiday Inn NIS 450 per person and NIS 250 for kids; and at the Crowne Plaza in Haifa, NIS 550 per person and NIS 350 for kids.) The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Gazpacho, Kosher. Holiday Inn, 9 Yekutiel Adam Street, Ashkelon.

Tel: (08) 674-8886. Open Sunday- Thursday noon -11:30 p.m. Saturday night until 11:30 p.m.