Poupee: Tel Aviv food that is kosher and sassy - review

Poupee has got the most fantastic bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a restaurant, but I refuse to spoil it for those of you who plan to try it, But remember: You heard it here first.

 Poupee (photo credit: AMIR MENACHEM)
(photo credit: AMIR MENACHEM)

Poupee, which describes itself as kosher and sassy, looks and feels more like a nightclub than a restaurant. Just off Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, it’s got a grungy, chic warehouse look going from the outside of the building and a hip, funky, string-of-light vibe interior.

It’s also got celebrity chef Aviv Moshe, formerly of non-kosher Messa fame, which was repeatedly voted one of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv. He now cooks at two high-end kosher restaurants, Mari in Netanya and Poupee in Tel Aviv. Moshe says that he started keeping kosher six years ago and now prefers restaurants that reflect his beliefs.

There seems to be a trend of restaurants in Tel Aviv and celebrity chefs turning kosher. I’m not sure if it’s related to more demand for kosher restaurants or a better work-life balance, as the chefs can then spend Shabbat with their families.

And Poupee has got the most fantastic bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a restaurant, but more about that later.

The new kosher menu

Food journalists were invited to try Poupee’s new kosher menu, but most of the patrons were young Tel Avivians dressed far better than Jerusalemites would dress, even for their own wedding. The young women all had very short skirts and very high heels, and when we left there was a line of beautiful people waiting to get in.

 Poupee. (credit: AMIR MENACHEM) Poupee. (credit: AMIR MENACHEM)

There are five cocktails on offer and I chose the “Tout lavie,” (French, All life long) which is described as “a soaked baluga with anise stars, cloves and fennel seeds, citron vodka, pineapple puree, Amara Montenegro and ground cardomom.” Now, I’m not sure what half of these ingredients are but the cocktail was delicious (NIS 59).

My husband chose “Habib Albi” (Arabic, Friend of My Heart), which was a slightly sweet combination of ouzo, arak, Martini Blanco, Hawaij syrup and apricot puree (NIS 48).

Our server Shlomi suggested that he would bring us several first courses to share and then we would choose our main courses. We were three diners (my husband, myself and our good friend Yonatan Livny, who writes for foodis) at a very small table. It felt a little cramped but that was also part of the fun.

WE STARTED with a hot Kobana, a Yemenite bread that came with three dips: garlic confit, a cherry tomato paste and cashew “yoghurt” (NIS 38). The bread was outstanding and the dips were good. We then tried the Sashimi Taboule (NIS 62), which was white fish sashimi “labane”, hyssop oil, almond tabbouleh, apricot, cranberries and torn challah. The dish was fresh and delicious. There was also an Offal Cigar” (NIS 44), which must sound better in Hebrew but tasted great. But the clear winner of the appetizer round for me was one of my favorites: goose liver, served in a Crepes Suzette sauce (NIS 118). It was served on brioche with Ma’amul Crumble and melted in my mouth. Don’t tell anyone but it was so good that we asked for another one to share.

For the main dishes, listed on the English menu as simply “Continue,” we first chose the Beef Fillet with garlic cream, bone marrow and root cream (NIS 196). I love fillet but this was slightly overcooked and the portion was small. I’d skip this entree.

We also had the sirloin, which was served with mashed potatoes and a fried soft-boiled egg (NIS 176). When you cut into the egg, it ran into the mashed potatoes. Very creative and the steak was very good. The best entree was Mezuzin-Poupee style sea bass in garlic harissa and herbs, in a tomato sauce with okra and purslane, a very healthy green vegetable that looks like parsley (NIS 134). I highly recommend it.

By now, the place was packed, the noise level had risen and the servers were weaving between the tables. We were offered dessert but our taxi to Jerusalem was waiting, so we gave up our table to patrons waiting in line outside.

Now for the promised part about the bathrooms. About halfway through the meal, my husband excused himself to use the facilities. When he returned to the table, he said, “You’ve got to go see the bathroom,” with a big grin. Now, I was hoping for “You look beautiful tonight dear,” but, hey, we’ve been married a long time.

A few minutes later, our dining companion, Jonathan, made the same trip and came back with the same grin.

By now, it wouldn’t have been a wasted visit, so I used the facilities and came back smiling, as well. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who plan to try Poupee. So I won’t. But remember that you heard it here first. And if you really can’t wait, I’m sure you can find it on Instagram.

PoupeeYehuda Halevi 46Open: Sunday-Thursday 7 p.m. to midnightPhone: 077-230-2777 (Reservations needed)Kashrut: Rabbanut Tel Aviv

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.