If someone invites you to breakfast at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv, the correct answer is yes. It doesn’t matter what else you have to do, it doesn’t matter that you live in Jerusalem and have to make the shlep to Tel Aviv, and it doesn’t matter that you’re on a post-Passover diet. Just go. You’ll thank me later.
I hesitate to say that the Carlton breakfast is the best in Israel as I haven’t been to every hotel in Israel (but I am willing to undertake that difficult task for you, my readers). But I can say confidently that it’s one of the best I’ve ever had.
First, it’s not actually in the hotel, but in a separate building that is right on the water. If you sit outside (which we didn’t as it was an exceptionally cold windy day in late March) you feel like you’re on a boat on the water.
Is this the best breakfast in Israel?
The breakfast is a buffet, but with some options that I’ve never seen before. The breads and pastries are all made in-house and served fresh from the oven. As you enter, opposite the buffet, there is a “fish refrigerator” with half a dozen kinds of smoked and cured fish. It was here that I discovered one of my favorite dishes of the morning – thinly sliced, excellent quality salmon sashimi. Next to the plate of salmon was wasabi and ginger, and of course there was soy sauce. Sashimi as a breakfast food? Why not?
What about breakfast alcohol, you ask? Next to the fish refrigerator was an ice bucket with a bottle of vodka, and another one of cava, which you can drink straight or do as my daughter did and make a mimosa. I hate to disappoint you, but I actually abstained as I had a few meetings in Tel Aviv that day!
There is also a vegan refrigerator which helps those of the vegan persuasion to know exactly what they can eat.
NOW FOR the buffet itself. It’s got everything you would expect from fresh vegetables to shakshuka (three versions, one of which is vegan) to a selection of fancy cheeses. There’s even a real honeycomb dripping honey that you can scoop up for your tea.
Speaking of tea, there is a tea corner with a huge selection. I am a coffee drinker, and as I sat down one of the servers rushed over to ask if I wanted coffee. I asked for a strong cappuccino and thought I’d have to ask for extra espresso as I usually do, but this coffee was strong enough – even for me. I may have had three of them and been bouncing off the walls all day, but that’s another story.
There is an omelet chef as well, although I made the strategic decision to skip the omelet’s and focus on other dishes like sashimi. There is also one person whose sole job is squeezing fresh fruits and vegetables for juice. The hotel bought special machines that are quiet in order not to interrupt breakfast.
My daughter and I asked Michael, the juice guy from South Africa, for a recommendation and he suggested a detox juice that was a beautiful shade of maroon and included beets, kale, carrots, green apple and ginger. It had a bit of a kick from the ginger and tasted yummy and healthy at the same time.
Now that we had detoxed it was time for dessert. And here came the one thing that wasn’t amazing and proved that we live in an unredeemed world. The waffle was dense and a little dry. When Nadav, the food and beverage manager stopped by my table, I told him what I thought of the waffle and he immediately said he would look into it.
Unfortunately for my waistline there were other very good desserts including kanafeh, the Arab dish of warm sweetened cheese with thin noodles on top. This version wasn’t quite as good as what I had in Nablus, but it was pretty close.
And to top it all off, there is a self-serve machine with frozen yoghurt or acai with all kinds of toppings.
“The Americans love the acai,” Nadav said.
My daughter brought me a small bowl of acai, which is supposed to be one of those super-foods packed with vitamins, in this case topped with nuts and chocolate candies. What’s not to love?
What does all this cost? 140 shekels per person. Guests not staying in the hotel need reservations. The Carlton HotelEliezer Peri 1003-520-1818Kashrut: Rabbanut Tel Aviv
The writer was a guest of the hotel.