Strawberry fields forever

Chend’ele is a delightful bistro-style restaurant in the charming moshav of Givat Chen.

Chend’ele bistro restaurant  370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Chend’ele bistro restaurant 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Living in Tel Aviv can be something of a claustrophobic experience at times, and while I consider myself a city kid at heart, I do make it a point to travel Israel in search of peace and quiet in the kibbutzim and moshavim of yesteryear. For this I usually travel relatively long distances to the North. Little did I know that the tranquility of rural Israel was just a 15-minute drive from Tel Aviv in Givat Chen.
The charming moshav, located between Ra’anana and Hod Hasharon, is home to Chend’ele, a bistro restaurant set between strawberry and flower fields.
Chend’ele is the brainchild of Nir Malkov, who set out to establish an authentic bistro-style restaurant in the midst of the moshav that is so dear to his heart.
Before having lunch, we toured some of the highlights on offer at Givat Chen. Local convenience store Hameshek is a throwback to traditional grocery stores, offering fresh fruits and vegetables from the moshav, as well as a range of quality foods from Israel and around the world. Also offering goods grown on the moshav is Givat Chen Flowers, a shop that specializes in luxury floral arrangements. It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to wander through fields of flowers and then see them beautifully arranged in a rustic store.
The moshav also has other specialty stores, such as baby boutique Milka and a ceramics studio run by the capable Tal Gilboa. Milka specializes in high- quality products with a focus on supporting Israeli designers, while potter Gilboa sells her unique works from the charming studio next to her house.
Chend’ele provides diners with a lovely, rustic atmosphere, with a large outdoor dining area and simple furnishings. Malkov explains that the building was converted from a chicken coop. With the chickens long gone, the renovated coop is now an inviting space complete with a large center table full of local products, as well as a corner bar.
Even though we were a large group, our experienced waitress took care of our every need without fuss and with haste.
The menu at Chend’ele is wide- ranging, offering breakfasts and sandwiches, as well as pastas and meat entrees. The grilled eggplant (NIS 35) as a starter was a great choice, and no one was disappointed.
With such a range of entrees to choose from, deciding on one dish was difficult. In the end, I went for the grilled spring chicken with teriyaki and peanut sauce (NIS 68).
The dish is also available with date honey and red wine sauce or roasted chilli and spices. For a side dish I chose the sweet potato mash.
With the sauce and the mash combined, the dish turned out to be rather sweet, but that was by no means a bad thing. The chicken was perfectly cooked, while the mash had a great texture and was full of flavor.
The sweetness of the main course served as a good prelude to the plethora of desserts that materialized on the table at the end of the meal. From Pavlova and tiramisu to homemade cheesecake and warm chocolate fudge cake (each NIS 40), we were spoiled for choice. Adding to the homey vibe of the restaurant, some of the desserts are prepared by one of the waitresses who recently completed a dessert-making course. This added personal touch was apparent throughout, and the desserts tasted just as good as they looked. The Pavlova was my personal favorite, with its crunchy meringue and lashings of whipped cream.
For one sunny winter’s day, Chend’ele gave me a taste of rural Israel, something I’d thought was only possible through long trips to well outside the Center. That’s why it was such a pleasure to realize that when the time came to leave the moshav, Tel Aviv was (theoretically) a mere 15-minute car ride away.
Unfortunately, the realities of rush- hour traffic meant the journey was closer to 45 minutes, but it still stands that the countryside is not so far away.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Chend’ele Not kosher Derech Hasultan, Moshav Givat Chen Tel: (09) 760-3647 Sunday – Thursday 9 p.m. – midnight. Friday 8:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 a.m