Taste of the world

A new tapas menu at Alma Lounge was a good reason to pop in to one of Tel Aviv’s hottest places.

Alma Lounge, Tel Aviv (photo credit: Courtesy)
Alma Lounge, Tel Aviv
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yonatan Roshfeld’s new summer tapas menu at Alma Lounge, the Alma boutique hotel’s restaurant, situated in a renovated 1925 townhouse, is everything you might expect, and then some.
Decorated like an exclusive Manhattan bar, with colorful and eclectic yet elegant furniture, with soft jazz pouring from hidden speakers, clever lighting that illuminates only the dishes but doesn’t take away from the romantic atmosphere, beautifully dressed staff in designer little black dresses and a well-stocked bar, the setting of one of the top new eateries in Tel Aviv is only the appetizer for what we thought was one of the best meals we’d had in recent months.
Roshfeld is an established star on the Israeli culinary scene. His other restaurants have consistently been rated among the top restaurants in Tel Aviv. His cuisine is very modern, with a dogged commitment to local ingredients, which he uses with flair.
When it first opened, Alma Lounge was criticized for its steep prices. But on the new menu, most of the dishes were priced at NIS 64 and, quite frankly, they sounded so good that we wanted to try them all. After consuming a few, I can honestly say that one can have a very pleasant evening there just ordering a couple of appetizers and some excellent wine without it costing an arm and a leg.
Roshfeld made a name for himself long before becoming a celebrity on TV. He was one of the first chefs to bring a notable chefcuisine to the Tel Aviv scene when he opened Roshfeld and won the hearts (rather, the bellies) of local foodies. At Alma, it seems that he has returned to his true calling – dreaming up new dishes every evening, putting together unexpected combinations and nailing it in every dish.
My dining companion and I started with tuna tartare with tapioca in coconut cream and kaffir lime, Thai basil and chili. It was a refined Thai-inspired dish that really worked as a surprise and opened the taste buds.
The following dishes topped this one. We got a Latino twist with Spanish mackerel with lime and jalapeno chili, an asparagus dish served with soft mature goat cheese, a shrimp dish with a citrus sauce, and an Asian minute steak with water chestnuts. We loved the seared calamari served on a bed of purple quinoa spiced with cardamom. A typical Roshfeld dish if ever there was one.
Another favorite was the grouper curry with tomato and lentil. It was so fantastic that we asked for more bread to soak up the sauce.
It is hard to choose one dish as our favorite, but we each chose a different one and kept changing our minds. It is safe to say that you will not go wrong choosing any of the dishes on this menu.
The specials menu offers more serious, larger size dishes, priced from NIS 68 for gnocchi carbonara to NIS 138 for a whole grouper or NIS 110 for lamb chops.
There is also a small dessert menu that offers very delicate and beautifully presented dishes. We were too full but took a bite from the chocolate crepes served with Valrone chocolate and sour cream.
True bliss and a wonderful ending to a perfect meal.
The service was impeccable – friendly, knowledgeable, quick and intelligent. All in all, Alma Lounge is probably among the top five restaurants Tel Aviv has to offer, and we vowed to frequent it whenever possible.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Alma Lounge Not kosher 23 Yavne St. (corner Ahad Ha’am), Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 630-87778