The first thing that strikes one when you walk into Olà-Olà is the decor – airy and spacious, lots of faux greenery, rough stone walls and a ceiling made of vertical natural wood strips. Plus very quiet background music, attentive waiters and a very warm and welcoming vibe.
The English menu had some marvelous bloopers which I enjoyed red-penciling, with “mify” for “mille-feuille” being a particularly egregious example. But the food makes up for it.
A fantastic meal in Tel Aviv
I began our meal with a cocktail, while my companion drank ice-cold Chablis – authentic, French and kosher (NIS 52). I chose “Ayelet Chen” (NIS 59), made of gin, passiflora, tonic with garnishes of cucumber and mint. Sipping it slowly through the meal, I found it to be a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink with mild alcoholic content.
Olà-Olà is jointly owned by restaurateur Or Shabtai, and the chef, Shaked Pahima. It is situated in the heart of the Carmel market, has been open for only six weeks, and is already a hit with the locals.
For a starter I chose ceviche (or tartare on the menu), very fresh, raw musar-yam, which translates as drum fish, served with cream cheese, mint, chives and tiny pieces of gamba (red pepper) for color (NIS 59). The fish had the texture of herring, without the saltiness, and was very bland.
My companion chose a skewer of deep-fried sweet potato chunks in amba (an Indian condiment.) Both starters were good, original and served to waken the appetite for what was to come.
When I see the word “truffle,” my taste buds come alive, and in this case the main course was musar again with truffle puree and broccoli (NIS 142).
It did not disappoint, although the puree could have been a little hotter. When I mentioned this, Or rushed off to get another helping. The fresh broccoli benefited from a lot of melted butter, and was cooked al dente.
My dining companion chose salmon fillet (NIS 115), a generous helping, lightly fried with a fluffy potato puree on the side. As usual, he finished every morsel and pronounced his dish delicious.
We chose two desserts, bread pudding (NIS 58) and crème brûlée (NIS 53). Both were huge amounts, and we were unable to finish them.
The bread pudding was scrumptious, with a caramel butter sauce to die for, and the crème brûlée was light, not oversweet, and was expertly topped with burnt sugar.
We ended our meal with a strong espresso for my companion, who does not know the meaning of the word insomnia, while I had a fresh mint in hot water finale.
Chef Pahima has also opened a kosher meat restaurant in the Carmel market, Doha. Watch this space!
Olà-Olà27 Simtat HacarmelTel AvivPhone: 050-932-2445Open: Sun.-Thurs., 12 noon to midnight. Friday, 12 noon-4 p.m. Shabbat – closed.Kashrut – Tel Aviv Rabbinate
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.