Connoisseurs have come to appreciate the role of the Zuk (aka Tzuk) family in Israeli culinary circles: Chef Nir (who spells his name Zook) has been associated with some of Tel Aviv’s finest restaurants (Cordelia, Mapu), while brother Tomer would become the owner of a Ramat Aviv delicatessen that serves meat that originates from his farm. Eventually, Tomer tapped talented chef Asaf Shinar to take the deli to the next level, expanding it to include a first-class steakhouse.
The signless restaurant bears the name Zuk Farm (Havat Tzuk in Hebrew), and it is situated in the unlikely setting of an alley around the corner from the deli, which itself is in a sidewalk mini-mall in an upscale residential neighborhood.
It comprises a newer, small indoor dining area – where wooden furniture and a country music playlist create a steakhouse atmosphere – as well as both open-air and enclosed seating areas out front.
There are no specialty cocktails, aside from a few homemade drinks based on arak, so our amiable host, chef Asaf, started us off with tastings of the house wine and the rotating monthly specials. Not surprisingly for a restaurant specializing in meat, reds dominate the concise wine list, but there is also a reasonable number of whites (and one rosé) – all available by the glass (NIS 39-58) as well as bottles.
WE WERE there to try out the new, bilingual winter menu – two pages crammed with eight sections: Starters (NIS 38-66), Salads (NIS 64-69), Bone-in Steak (NIS 42-49 per 100 gr.), Sandwiches (including hamburgers, NIS 48-96), Kids Menu (NIS 54), Sides/Fries (NIS 14-18) and Specials (NIS 86-156). Vegetarians/vegans can get by with a salad and vegan burger.
We left our menu choices up to the chef, and he started off our tasting menu with two appetizers: chopped liver and beef carpaccio. The former traditional Jewish favorite had an intriguing sweet-and-sour twist, thanks to the honey vinegar in the recipe. In addition, it was served with red horseradish, pickle, red onion and radish, all of which added up to a great beginning.
The beef carpaccio, meanwhile, was prepared in the classic fashion, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and topped with arugula leaves. The quality of the beef was evident even in these razor-thin savory slices. Both the liver and the carpaccio were accompanied by fresh frena bread.
Two more starters were to follow, both unique creations of chef Asaf. First was the BBQ Snacks – beef short ribs sliced thinner than I had ever seen, and coated in a delicious lemon and honey glaze that made the tasty slivers of meat and bone as addictive as potato chips.
Alongside the rib goodies was a small bowl of what I can only call gourmet coleslaw. I never thought I would use the word “gourmet” to describe coleslaw, but this version – enhanced with pumpkin and chili – elevated the often mundane cabbage salad to a level I had never imagined.
Another house specialty among the first courses is the Medjool Kabab – expertly seasoned kebabs stuffed into Medjool dates, atop a distinctive sour cream and cured lemon sauce. The disparate components of this surprising dish somehow come together to create a truly wonderful interplay of flavors.
We were well on our way to pleasant satiety when the chef informed us that we were only halfway through our odyssey. Next, we had to try two specialty burgers: the Wagyu Burger and the Dirty Burger.
The Wagyu Burger is self-explanatory: a patty of characteristically tender, highly marbled Wagyu beef, served in a bun with just the basic accoutrements of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. I enjoyed it not only as a sandwich, but also just on its own, as a hamburger steak,
The Dirty Burger, on the other hand, is a patty of Holstein beef piled high with an extravaganza of premium toppings: smoked corned beef, onion jam, a blend of Gruyère and cheddar cheese, and mixed greens, all on a bun moistened with truffle mayonnaise. It’s impossible to fit all this in your mouth, but without the top of the bun you can just manage to get all the rest on your fork and enjoy the resulting explosion of flavors.
The climax of our blowout was Prime Rib, arguably the acme of Zuk Farm’s famous steaks. What was especially remarkable about our portion was the way they managed to grill the meat on opposite sides of the bone to our two different preferences: rare and medium-rare. We feasted on amazingly succulent slices of world-class steak – and then proceeded to gnaw every last juicy morsel off the bone. In sum, an unforgettable treat for any carnivore.
One might think that nothing could follow this, but the chef insisted we have dessert, in the form of a representative sampler: tastes of the house’s Bread and Butter Pudding (with whipped cream), Cheesecake (with quince confiture and fresh strawberry) and Chocolate Mousse made with single malt Scotch whisky.
Naturally, we could only manage one or two bites of each magnificent sweet – yet enough to convince us that, even here, it is worth heeding the old adage: “always leave room for dessert.”
Zuk FarmNot kosher5 Moshe Perlock Street/4 Zaritzky Street, Tel AvivTel. 077-515-5905
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.