Hatarnegol Hakahol: The Blue Rooster

Hatarnegol Hakahol in Tel Aviv is an elegant establishment that features an eclectic menu.

Hatarnegol hakahol 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hatarnegol hakahol 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hatarnegol Hakahol (The Blue Rooster) is somewhat off the beaten track for someone like me who tends to check out restaurants mainly in central Tel Aviv or Jaffa. Granted, it’s located right next to the main Arlozorov/Savidor train station, which many would still consider central, but this is not an area that I would expect to find a good restaurant.
Housed in an upscale shopping mall in the complex outside the YOO towers, Hatarnegol Hakahol seems from the outside quite cold and uninviting; but once my friend and I stepped into the restaurant, we entered a well-designed and classy yet comfortable space.
The menu is very eclectic, taking influences from all around the world. Some dishes have a Thai twist, some are inspired by Japanese cuisine, and many dishes have a predominantly Mediterranean flavor.
The wine list is very impressive, and what makes it even more special is that it’s made up entirely of Israeli wines. It is important to note, however, that not all the wines are kosher, as some of them come from boutique wineries that do not have a kashrut certificate. But then again, the restaurant is not kosher, either. We were lucky enough to see the entire wine collection, which is kept in an intimate cellar. We went for a bottle of Petit Castel, which comes from the boutique Castel Winery in the Jerusalem hills.
The waiters at Hatarnegol Hakahol were very conscientious, but we must have visited on an evening when they were training new staff, and it showed. The more experienced waiters, who were showing the newer ones what to do, seemed to know what they were talking about and made sure that our evening ran smoothly and everything was taken care of.
Whenever I go out to a good restaurant, I always try to order things I wouldn’t usually make at home or eat at a regular restaurant. So, true to form, for the appetizer I went for veal brains on a bed of spicy tomato marmalade and coriander pesto (NIS 63). When I saw it on the menu and realized I had never actually tasted any kind of brain, I was very intrigued. For my first time trying it, I was impressed with how soft the meat was and what a unique taste it had. The coriander pesto gave the dish a bit of a kick, and the cherry tomatoes made everything fresh.
Not wanting to feel left out on the veal theme, my friend ordered an appetizer of veal sweetbreads and chicken hearts served with tehina and nuts (NIS 63). This dish was slightly less enjoyable, as the meats were overcooked in my opinion and the tehina and nuts didn’t really add anything special.
When it came to the main course, we also went for dishes that were slightly different. I opted for duck breast served with port sauce, drunken pears and shimeji mushrooms (NIS 99). For the quality of the meat and great flavors of the pears and mushrooms, this dish was very reasonably priced. It was not such a large dish, but the quality outweighed the quantity, and the duck itself was tender and flavorful.
When the enthusiastic waitress read out the daily specials, my friend could not resist the Kobe steak served with Asian-style fried vegetables (NIS 200). Although it was relatively expensive, especially compared to the rest of the menu, it was worth it. The tenderness of this special type of beef from Japan was noticeable even before we tried it. The strong flavor and the marbled texture was enough to make this dish special, as the steak came on a plate by itself with nothing else. The vegetables on the side were also tasty, but the meat took center stage this time.
Although we were already rather full after our main courses, we couldn’t resist ordering from the dessert menu. The creme brulee with a hint of cardamom (NIS 38) was a great choice because the Mediterranean twist added a certain savory element to offset the sweetness. The actual texture of the creme brulee was just right, and the crispy sugar layer was perfect.
The second dessert, which consisted of a chocolate cookie sandwich (NIS 38) filled with ice cream, was tasty but nothing special. It was the kind of dessert where the chocolate did all the talking and innovation took a back seat.
Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Hatarnegol Hakahol. It was a refreshing change to step slightly out of our comfort zone, even if it was only a 15-minute bicycle ride away from our regular haunts. The food here is of a high standard, and many of the dishes have a unique twist that separate them from ones found in other similar restaurants. With great service and a well thought out wine list, a trip to this north Tel Aviv establishment is well worth it.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Hatarnegol Hakahol
Not kosher
10 Nissim Aloni, Tel Aviv
Open Sunday to Saturday from noon to midnight