The taste test

When it comes to sampling the menu at the elegant E-zugi in Tel Aviv, the dishes pass with flying colors.

E-zugi in Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
E-zugi in Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
What were the owners thinking, calling their restaurant E-zugi? Do they realize that the translation in English is “uneven”? Although, on second thought, it could be appropriate. There are so many dishes on the menu, that they can’t possibly all be topnotch, though I hasten to add that many are superb.
The basic concept of this kosher restaurant is that one chooses an uneven number of dishes – three, five, seven or even nine for the very hungry – and get a taste, because they are small helpings, of many of chef Eitan Mizrachi’s original creations. It’s an ideal outing for a group of people who like to share food and try many different tastes.
Recently they held a gourmet evening to introduce their summer menu to local food writers, and several dozen turned up in anticipation of a great meal.
Situated in the Leonardo boutique hotel in the Ramat Hahayal district of Tel Aviv, the restaurant is a glitzy mirrored place with dim lighting, extravagant flower arrangements and attentive waitresses.
Every dish costs NIS 45, be it starter, main course or dessert.
Normally, the clients will build up their own menu but on this particular evening, the dishes were chosen by the management, which in some ways made it easier.
The first item to appear was the house cocktail, which was made from Amaretto, soda and lemon syrup and had some cherries floating in it. The almond flavor was overpowering, that we quickly replaced the drink with a glass of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.
The view improved considerably when a plate of crispy taboon bread appeared, accompanied by three dips – garlic confit, chimichirri and red pepper salsa.
My only quibble is that the teeth of garlic should be very soft and melt in the mouth, but these were slightly hard and chewy.
Then the plates of hors d’oeuvres started to arrive. The tuna souvlaki – cubes of raw fish with red onion and green leaves in an aioli/caper sauce – came served in a paper cone, which I preferred to the tortilla cone it was supposed to be.
It was good, the fish being ultrafresh.
The beef carpaccio – superthin slices of beef seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar – made little impression. The tomato tarte tatin also left me cold, as the mix of cooked tomatoes, olives, garlic and thyme made the pastry soggy. However, the goose liver in tempura batter, served on a warm vegetable salad in maple sauce, honey and thyme, was absolutely delicious (although I tried to convince myself that I only ate it out of professional considerations, goose liver being a no-no for me because of the way it is produced).
The main dishes consisted mostly of various skewers of excellent small cuts of beef. One was aged sirloin with a black olive puree, and another was beef fillet medallions in a spicy coating. The lamb spare ribs were particularly good, meaty and not fat, with a garlic, honey and thyme marinade. Several dishes came with a tasty potato puree.
I must emphasize that although it sounds like a huge amount of food, the portions are small – just a generous taste, really. The emphasis is on presentation, which was invariably very aesthetic.
Nevertheless, by the time the desserts came, we had to loosen our belts by several notches. We tried chocolate soufflé with mango sorbet, which was so rich that even my chocoholic companion couldn’t finish it. We also sampled the pineapple tatin – fresh thin slices with coconut ice cream. And churros, which are fried pastry fingers served in a bag to be dipped in chocolate or maple syrup. All the desserts were original, beautifully presented and not overly sweet.
E-Zugi is a gastronomic experience and highly recommended.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

E-Zugi Kosher Rehov Habarzel 17, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 511-0075.