Restaurant Review: The cake is terrific

Price is a concern but not a reason to stay away from Ramat Hahayal's Marie Antoinette.

'Location, location, location," they say. For me, Marie Antoinette's location in Ramat Hahayal, the chain-infested quasi-suburb of Tel Aviv, is a weak starting point. Marie does its best to overcome this Achilles' heel by incorporating all the traits of a luxurious chef's restaurant - at least those traits that impress my plebeian friends and me. The menu includes prestigious foodstuffs such as truffles and goose liver, crumbs are carefully swept from the table after every course and the waiter's pitcher is full of mineral water. But the classiness is dashed upon viewing the washed-out colored walls and the waiters' shirts adorned with a coffee company logo. This clash between intent and appearance mainly bothered me due to the prices. As a chef restaurant, Marie can be expensive. My salad of lettuce leaves with Champagne sauce and Parmesan (NIS 38) and the feta cheese-filled eggplants in pesto sauce were good, though I was hoping for a more interesting vegetarian option in regards to the latter. My friend, it can be said, loved her reasonably priced Bouillabaisse (NIS 56). Prices present more of a problem when it came to the main course. My tomato sauce pasta with both dried and fresh tomatoes was nice but nothing more yet it cost NIS 68. The Rossini Tornado-beef fillet with goose liver that my friend had was also nice but did not sweep her off her feet. For NIS 130, quite a sum to spend on one course, perhaps it should have. Albeit the ingredients were quality and the presentation upscale. Dessert, on the other hand, is definitely a reason to return. An amazing crème brule with orange sauce (NIS 38) and the chocolate soufflé (NIS 44) were among the best I've ever had. Two important notes to keep in mind. The goose liver is not from force-fed geese. "We serve meat, but have no desire to make animals suffer," they say. Second, is the Marie Meal, consisting of a first course, main course and a dessert for two. At NIS 89-109 per diner this is a price worthy of the visit. Marie Antoinette (7 Habarzel St., Tel Aviv; (03) 648-2999) is open hours Sun. to Sat. from noon to midnight; not kosher. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.