Café 99: Great buffet in Tel Aviv - review

The selection at the buffet was more limited than many hotel breakfasts I have tried, but it was certainly more than enough for me.

 Café 99 (photo credit: Gali Eitan)
Café 99
(photo credit: Gali Eitan)

Israel’s hotel breakfasts are well known for a good reason. The fresh fruits and vegetables, along with excellent locally made cheeses, and hot dishes make hotel buffets a great way to fuel up for a day of sightseeing.

I recently met my friend Jenn Lewin, who teaches at the University of Haifa, for a “yom kef” in Tel Aviv. We had tickets to the Yoyoi Kusama exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (which I highly recommend) and started our day at Cafe 99 at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv.

I love hotels, and the lobby of the Dan Hotel on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv has a wonderful view of the sea. The breakfast, which costs NIS 120 per person, although there are often specials for NIS 100 each, is a combination of a hotel buffet and dishes ordered like in a restaurant.

When we arrived the starters and salads were already in the center of the table. There was a delicious Caesar salad with lettuce, Parmesan and anchovies in a Caesar dressing, a few slices of marinated salmon with a remoulade sauce, an Israeli salad and something I had never tried before called aruk, which the menu describes as Iraqi vegetable hash browns with tzatziki sauce. The portions were all small, but could be refilled.

We were then invited to the buffet in the center of the room. Again, the buffet had a limited number of offerings but all were well made.

 Café 99 (credit: Gali Eitan) Café 99 (credit: Gali Eitan)

There was a selection of breads and pastries, along with a toaster for those who prefer their bread toasted.

There was one of my favorite salads of roasted eggplant with tehina and s’hug, a selection of olives, cut up vegetables, and several goat cheeses.

The selection at the buffet was more limited than many hotel breakfasts I have tried, but it was certainly more than enough for me.

What was unique about this breakfast was that the waitress then asked us what we wanted for our main course, and the choices went far beyond omelets and fried eggs.

Jenn, who is far more abstemious than I am, ordered an egg white omelet with mushrooms. I went for the Eggs Benedict, which was a luxurious concoction of poached eggs with smoked salmon on a brioche bun with hollandaise sauce.

As a service to my readers, I also asked to try the muesli with seasonal fresh fruit and yogurt. This was my only disappointment, as I had been hoping for some pineapple and berries, but they did not appear.

There were several other dishes that looked interesting, including a lentil msabbaha served with roasted cauliflower and a hard-boiled egg, and a Croque Gruyère served with a poached egg and mushrooms.

Anyone who knows me knows I enjoy a glass of wine or a drink now and then (a little understatement never hurt anyone!), and for an extra NIS 25 you can have an apple martini, a glass of Yarden rose Brut 2014, or a glass of White Journey from the Vitkin winery. I was certainly tempted, but it was a little early in the morning even for me.

The strong cappuccino I ordered revived me after the journey from Jerusalem.

Pleasantly full, Jenn and I headed off to the Tel Aviv Museum for the art exhibition.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Cafe 9999 Hayarkon Street, Tel AvivHours: 8 a.m.-11 a.m., Sunday-ThursdayKashrut: Tel Aviv Rabbinate