Bella and Charlie, a kosher meat restaurant in Moshav Tnuvot, is a well-kept secret. We only discovered it when our nephew Nick celebrated his 60th birthday there with his cousins, our two sons.
The moshav itself is small with well under 1,000 residents at last count. So it’s a mystery how the place has kept going since it opened about a year and a half ago.
The restaurant has a very young vibe, with dim lighting, non-stop music and groups of kids having a night out. But there were a few adults around, including us, so we didn’t feel too out of place.
Bella and Charlie is known for its cocktails, so we decided to indulge. The cocktail menu is in English only, unlike the food menu which is only in Hebrew. It’s almost as though if you can’t read English you are not eligible to partake of fussy alcoholic mixes, which is basically what cocktails are.
I chose something called “Good Vibes,” a vodka-and-fruit juice melange that looked more like a miniature garden than a drink, with slices of fruit and mint leaves all over it. It was sweet but produced a warm glow, confirming that it did indeed contain alcohol. My companion chose a mojito, a rum-based long drink garnished with kiwi slices, and seemed to enjoy it.
My starter was the standard roasted chopped eggplant with tehina, but I really liked the name, “hatsil oti,” which is a clever play on words hatsil, the Hebrew for aubergine, a phrase that also means “save me.” The dish was a very aesthetic combination of smoked hatsil salad, on which tehina had been piped in a criss-cross pattern. A touch of genius was the addition of silan (date syrup) here and there that added an alluring sweetness (NIS 35).
My partner chose Ras-el-Cruvit, roasted cauliflower garnished with tehina and with pungent rocket leaves on the side, a healthy dish with plenty of bite (NIS 34).
For his main course he chose a spondra sandwich and raved about it with every mouthful (NIS 54). Spondra is a cut of stewing beef that needs long, slow cooking. A large amount of this dish was stuffed into a large fresh sesame-sprinkled roll that was almost a loaf. The sandwich was three or four inches deep, but somehow he managed to consume it without any problem. The side salad was largely irrelevant.
I chose a vegan burger, which looked exactly like a regular burger with a soft bun and garnish of tomato, lettuce and purple onion. It was surprisingly “meaty” and, according to the menu, was made from peas and other healthy ingredients. It came with nicely hot fries on the side (NIS 62). The accompanying Weihenstephaner beer was mild and went well with the earthy food.
After this, neither of us could contemplate a dessert, so we said our goodbyes, having enjoyed an excellent meal and sure we would visit Bella and Charlie again.
As to the name, it is a closely guarded secret, not unlike the place itself.
Like all restaurants in Israel, the place is now locked down but is making deliveries.
Bella and Charlie
Kosher, under supervision of the local rabbinate.
Alumim 9, Industrial area, Moshav Tnuvot.
Phone: 055-926-6661, deliveries available.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.