A week after it opened, we received an invitation to visit the new restaurant of renowned Kurdish-born chef Aviv Moshe, his first venture outside of Tel Aviv.
Famous for being at the helm of several Tel Aviv eateries, including Messa and Poupee, he has now opened Maree on the 15th floor of Netanya’s Lagoon Hotel.
“I recently moved to the Sharon area,” he says, “and I wanted to offer some of the glitter of Tel Aviv night life without the hassle of long drives and parking problems.”
The decor of Maree is striking, with an open kitchen surrounded on all sides by the diners, who can follow the progress of their meal being prepared. The heart of the kitchen is a huge extractor over the cooking area in the shape of a massive red crown with row upon row of silver lights dangling around it.
During the day, diners will have a panoramic view of the sea, but as it was night when we visited, we had to make do with the indoor sights, which included walls of craggy rocks and a restroom with psychedelic, abstract, black-and-white surfaces from floor to ceiling.
We settled down to this culinary adventure with shared anticipation and perused the cocktail menu (in Hebrew, as is the food menu, but they are working on translating both to English). The lighting is extra dim, so reading menus was done with the help of concealed lighting so subtle it nearly wasn’t there. Somehow, we both managed to choose a cocktail. As I think I have mentioned before, cocktails are big on fruit juice and low on alcohol, but they were certainly very pretty, garnished with edible flowers (choice of five cocktails, NIS 59-61.)
For a starter, my companion chose the goose liver, which was served on a sliver of pie crust with a cream made from root vegetables, and a lemon tart added for good measure. He felt the unusual combination of these different elements made for a great starter (NIS 98).
My choice was tuna sashimi with mustard sorbet, a dish so aesthetic it seemed a pity to eat it. Very fresh chopped tuna with a garnish of sorbet reminiscent of wasabi, this certainly alerted the palate in preparation for the main courses (NIS 72).
My companion, as is his wont, chose the lamb chops for a main course (two for NIS 196, three for NIS 250). He chose three. He was very thrilled with the choice, proclaiming them to be totally fat-free, perfectly cooked and delicious. To complete the dish, there was an assortment of multicolored roasted carrots and a nut cream.
My selection of levrak (sea bass) was also inspired. It consisted of two fish fillets in a mushroom cream sauce topped with a sweet crunchy tuile, and gnocchi on the side (NIS 142).
The staff are very friendly and every so often would come over for a chat. In one such exchange, it was revealed that Noa Kirel (famous Israeli singer, for the uninitiated) will be having her birthday party at Maree very soon.
And so to dessert. My companion chose chocolate bread pudding, consisting of chunks of dark chocolate topped with pretzel crumbs and crème patissier (NIS 58). My choice was fresh strawberries with sorbet, topped with a tuile of half pastry, half meringue. Both desserts came with more edible flowers, and were a treat to behold – and eat.
Maree Sky Lounge is certainly a very welcome addition to the culinary scene in Netanya.
Maree Sky LoungeVert Lagoon Hotel, 15th floorNetanyaKashrut: Netanya RabbinateTel. (09) 741-0909Open: Sun.-Thurs., 6:30 p.m.- 11:30 p.m.; Friday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m.-11:30 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.