Buy the Way: A highway rest-stop with gourmet delights - food review

Where one might be expecting a run-of-the-mill convenience store, you will find a recently refurbished bright interior which combines elements of a deli, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor and more.

 Hybrid gourmet at Buy the Way. (photo credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)
Hybrid gourmet at Buy the Way.
(photo credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)

If there is one thing I have learned from years of reviewing restaurants, it is that the old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is true in a culinary sense as well: the location of a premises, or its outward appearance, is not necessarily an indication of the quality of the food. For example, I have enjoyed many fine meals in Israeli eateries attached to gas stations, and I was pleasantly surprised when such an experience repeated itself last week.

There is no missing Buy The Way: the name - in English - is emblazoned on a prominent sign, outlined in red, announcing its presence northbound on Highway 4, just beyond the central Ra’anana interchange. Not only is there easy access by car, but there is also plenty of free parking.

Buy the Way is a food emporium that defies pigeonholing: where one might be expecting a run-of-the-mill convenience store, you will find a recently refurbished bright interior which combines elements of a deli, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor and the atmosphere of a neighborhood cafe. Beyond the attractive food and beverage displays is a cafeteria-style serving counter and an indoor eating area furnished with contrasting light and dark wooden tables and chairs.  It is filled with many patrons eating while working on laptops and even playing board games in groups. In addition, there is an al fresco patio with straw chairs and green shrubbery.

There is neither waiter nor alcohol service, so expectations of a fine dining experience are low. Buy the Way has invested significantly in creating and executing a superior food menu; however, hiring Chef Michal Levy (featured in a review on these pages of Billboard on 18 May 17), and consulting with Snir Eng-Sela, chef and owner of the popular Sharon bistro Gouje & Danielle.

The recently revised menu comes in Hebrew and English, and many of the staff speak good English. It has four sections: Breakfast and More (NIS 18–69 ), Salads (NIS 48–46), Main Courses and Pastas (NIS 54–76), Sandwiches (NIS 24–40) and Bakery (NIS 8–32). There is a reasonable number of vegetarian and vegan options.

  Hybrid gourmet at Buy the Way. (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO) Hybrid gourmet at Buy the Way. (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)

After perusing the menu at your convenience, you place your order at the counter and receive a buzzer that will alert you when you are to pick up your meal. As you wait, you browse the startlingly upscale selection of imported and domestic wines, beers, exotic juices and sodas, which are purchased at the service counter.

Since we were there to try the newly updated winter menu, the breakfast (served until noon) and sandwich sections were of little interest – although there were quite a few intriguing creations among the latter, including many at very reasonable prices for a quick lunch. All breads, rolls, challot, pastries and cakes are baked in-house, and the house bread we were served with dinner – whole grain with nuts and fruit – was outstanding.

We began our meal with the quinoa salad, a heaping mound of red and white quinoa studded with chunks of sweet potato, dried cranberries and slivered almonds, topped with a grated hard-boiled egg and drizzled with just the right amount of an excellent dressing of tehina, olive oil and lemon. We both so enjoyed the distinctive quinoa salad that my companion declared it one of the best she had ever had.

Our next dish was even a bigger surprise: the sole burger on the menu – which was not beef, but shrimp – was in a league of its own in comparison not only with other seafood cakes in Israel but even with my previous experiences abroad. The thick patty consisted of plump morsels of fresh shrimp (as opposed to the more common baby, diced or minced shrimp) held together with the bare minimum of expertly seasoned filling. We ordered ours without the hamburger bun, and thus received the aioli and sriracha spreads as dips for the amazing burger, the pleasant memory of which remained long after the meal.

The pastas are almost equal in number to the main courses, and our choice in that category was the beet gnocchi:  slightly chewy pillows of potato pasta in a crimson beetroot sauce that was delicious, particularly when enhanced with grated Parmesan cheese. It was a bit surprising that neither meat (apart from sausages) nor poultry appear anywhere on the menu; nonetheless, the quality of what is offered was such that their absence is but a curiosity and not a lacking.

Desserts necessitate another trip to the counter, whether to the bakery section or the display of ice creams, which are also made by Buy The Way. It is not easy deciding among the many tempting treats, but eventually we settled on a slice of the white chocolate cheesecake – a serving of rich goodness that tasted much denser than the texture it turned out to have.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Buy The Way. Not kosher. Highway 4, Raanana. Tel. (053) 938-7779.