Claro: Tel Aviv restaurant with food from fields near Gaza - review

This month, they built a rich menu that consists of delicious vegetables, berries, special cheeses and yogurts, wonderful local wines, and surprisingly excellent beef that is grown near Gaza.

 Claro (photo credit: SHANI BRIL)
(photo credit: SHANI BRIL)

Claro restaurant’s head chef Ran Shmueli at the helm, together with talented acting chef Tal Feigenbaum, continue their journey into the different agrarian landscapes of Israel.

Following their explorations into the agriculture of the Golan Heights and the Judean Mountains, this summer they traveled south to meet the brave pioneers that insist on cultivating the fields around the Gaza Strip, growing special vegetables and fruit, making excellent wines, cheeses, and even beef, in an area that comes under frequent rocket bombardment.

Saluting the brave farmers, the chefs of this restaurant created, yet again, a mouthwatering menu you do not want to miss.

Claro continues to lead culinary innovation, insisting on the idea of farm-to-table seasonal ingredients and local small growers.

This month, they built a rich menu that consists of delicious vegetables, berries, special cheeses and yogurts, wonderful local wines, and surprisingly excellent beef that is grown in the heat of the western Negev near the Gaza border.

 Claro (credit: SHANI BRIL)
Claro (credit: SHANI BRIL)

Enjoying delicious food from the Gaza border area

Claro is one of our favorite restaurants in Tel Aviv, which is home to many fantastic eateries. Located in Sarona, next to the Sarona Market, the restaurant is housed in the three-story Templer building which was once a winery and distillery. Built in 1868, the building is beautiful and spacious, offering a large dining area on the ground floor, an outside sitting area, a private dining room on the second floor and a lounge in the basement. All three areas, which can house more than 450 diners, are decorated with meticulous attention to detail, including specially designed furniture, some relics from the original residents of the building and many top design features.

Before we delve into their special menu, we must mention the impeccable service here, which does not resemble the regular shlump style we’re used to in local restaurants. Here the friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff make you feel like returning again and again, and that’s even before you sit down.

The spacious dining area, large tables, upbeat atmosphere and busy, open kitchen set the tune for an excellent dining experience, both when dining alone or with guests. It is also a great spot for people watching and you can expect to see a few familiar faces dining here.

The menu is divided into small openers, firsts, middles and main courses, with a separate dessert menu and a well-selected wine menu that changes from time to time. This month’s wine selection includes a few great wines from the Negev which will no doubt stay on the menu.

We started with a shared plate of Fries from the Negev – which included okra in tempura, corn and Nili cheese croquettes and a smoked parmesan cheese cream (NIS 42). Together with two glasses of Chenin Blanc from a southern winery, it was a wonderful beginning.

While munching on our starting dish we found it hard to resist ordering too much and decided to continue with Red mackerel sashimi, served over grilled Armenian cucumber (called Fakus in Israel) and Carosello (a kind of zucchini), with blackberries, chili salsa and coriander (NIS 84). The vegetables are all from a farm located in the featured area, and the dish was delicious and innovative. We hope they keep it on the regular menu after the special month is over.

Other dishes we were looking at (but resisted, this time) included Negev leaf salad with date syrup and hyssop vinaigrette, roasted pears and bovini cheese from Givat Haim (NIS 68), Fattoush Salad from Cherry Farm and Mozzarella from Givat Haim. Many of the dishes here are marked with two stars, meaning they can be ordered in a vegan version. Smart.

For main dishes I wanted to choose a dish from the rich middle section. After much deliberation, a decision was reached and I ordered for the eggplant and labaneh mezzaluna (half-moon shaped pasta with sealed, curved edges, very similar to ravioli), with charred tomatoe sauce and goat yogurt from Kornmeal Farm (NIS 98). This dish is simple but full of flavor, and the simplicity hides meticulous preparation and excellent flavor combination. I loved it.

My dinner companion cannot resist a good steak, and this time he surprised me and ordered the fillet of beef. If you thought that the only place they grow excellent beef in Israel is the Golan Heights – well think again. This fantastic beef cut came from Myska Farm from the Negev, and was prepared to perfection.

I was saving room for desserts and they too were great examples of the creative and innovative thinking in the Claro kitchen. We chose one dish which was all corn – polenta cream, corn ice cream, sweet popcorn, and toffee caramel sauce. The second one was suggested by our wonderful waiter, a pecan pie with banana ice cream – made from the best pecans we had in a long time. Classic and excellent. What a sweet ending to yet another great evening. See you soon!

The special Western Negev Month will continue until July 25.

ClaroNot kosherHa’arba’a Street 23, Tel Aviv.Phone: 03-601-7777.Sunday-Thursday: Noon-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.Visit:

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.