Yarden and Oshry’s Kiosk & Co.: A fine-dining restaurant in disguise

As endearing as the chemistry between the actress and [film school graduate turned] chef was on television, it is even more captivating in person.

Kiosk & Co. (photo credit: ARIEL EFRON)
Kiosk & Co.
(photo credit: ARIEL EFRON)
 Just in time for the beginning of the outdoor dining season comes the latest commercial venture from chefs who vaulted to celebrity status by virtue of their performance on one of Israel’s leading cooking competition television programs. Yarden and Oshry are a charming and talented young couple (not in any romantic sense) who became audience favorites as they climbed the ladder of success to finish as runners-up on the My Kitchen Rules (MKR) show. 
As endearing as the chemistry between the actress and [film school graduate turned] chef was on television, it is even more captivating in person, as diners can watch them do their thing (along with a slew of sous-chefs) in the small open kitchen of the oversized kiosk at the key intersection of Tel Aviv’s Herzl Street and Rothschild Boulevard. Seating at the kiosk is outside, on bar stools, and at a premium. 
It is particularly mesmerizing to watch the earnest Oshry ply his craft with passion and painstaking attention to detail. We watched in amazement as he rubbed garlic on each slice of toasted bread and the Informal Gourmet sniffed it before proceeding to assemble the dish. When I asked if he minded if I mentioned this in my review, he answered, “On the contrary, I insist!”  
“We eat with all our senses,” he explains. “First we look, then we smell, then feel, then taste.” Before Oshry plates and serves, he wants to be sure the customer will be able to gratify all of the senses. 
Despite the casual atmosphere of the venue, every diner gets two menus: one food and one alcohol. Fittingly, they are photocopied on single sheets of plain paper. The establishment is very new, so the Hebrew menus are still being translated into English, we are told. 
There are five specialty cocktails (NIS 34-46), of which I especially enjoyed the robust and refreshing Martini Fiero, with white vermouth, St. Germain liqueur and lemon. The wine list, while not extensive, features reds and whites by the glass (NIS 31-41) from all over Europe. The three house wines are a very reasonable NIS 23, while the sole draft beer (imported) is NIS 25. 
The food menu, meanwhile, comprises five sections, in categories defined by descriptions of actual dishes rather than by names of typical courses. This is because they are all largely intermediate in size; we treated them like tapas, meant for sharing. 
Interestingly, there is no meat, poultry or seafood on the entire menu: just fish and vegetarian/vegan dishes. There are also plenty of gluten-free options. (Indeed, it would be hard to label any food here non-kosher, although the restaurant can not obtain kashrut certification because it is open on Shabbat.)
The food menu comprises five sections: On Its Own (NIS 56-68); In Bread, Etc. (NIS 58-66); Wrapped in Veggies (NIS 39-56); Battered (NIS 42-59); Dessert (NIS 25-45). Dishes are for the most part wholesome and healthful: it is impossible to overdose on carbs here, since there is neither pasta nor rice (and very little potato). 
OUR AMIABLE hosts offered to put together a hit parade of their most popular dishes, and we readily agreed – with one caveat: they should try to include something from each category. They were happy to rise to the challenge. 
Oshry started us off with the first dish on the menu, mysteriously named 1967 (alluding to a far-fetched pun in Hebrew referencing the result of the Six Day War). The restaurant’s take on ceviche consisted of morsels of gently cured Spanish mackerel on dollops of pulped tomato, chili pepper, sour cream and spring onion. This delicious melange was served with their “legendary spelt cracker” – a crispy, nutty wafer that practically stole the show. 
Next was the Decadent Moroccan: at its heart, it is traditional North African-style fishcakes stewed in a zesty sauce of hot pepper mash, mayonnaise, chuma pepper, ground parsley and spring onion. What sets this version apart from chreime or any of its variations is here the red fishcake is stuffed into a sphinge – sort of a Moroccan sufganiya – which absorbs the piquant juices. Bite after luscious bite, this unique sandwich never failed to please. 
On to our veggie entree: the Marboun Caesar – or “poor man’s Caesar” – grilled Romaine lettuce with spring onion, drenched in the distinctive house vinaigrette and topped generously with ground Parmesan cheese. One often finds grilled cabbage in Israeli restaurants, but the substitution of lettuce was indeed a novelty – and a most welcome interpretation. 
As we ate, I suggested to Oshry that this could also easily be one of his trademark sandwiches, an idea he admitted he had considered, and to which he was still open. In fact, he immediately toasted us a bruschetta – rubbed, of course, with a clove of garlic – on which I placed my remaining lettuce, and which helped us mop up every last drop of the outstanding dressing.    
We simply had to try one of the two dishes encased in the inviting golden brown puffy batter: the enticingly named Surprise Package, whose filling was zucchini smothered with Kiosk & Co.’s signature ricotta cream. This is undoubtedly the best way to eat your healthy green vegetables: I would love to see this exact same combination of crispy beer batter and savory ricotta cream paired with asparagus or broccoli, for example. 
Finally, the restaurant’s desserts – a total of two in number – were explained to us by the ever-smiling Yarden, apparently also the pastry chef. The Charlie is in essence a chocolate bar chock full of nuts – walnuts and candied hazelnuts, to be exact. You won’t find a fudgier, crunchier candy bar in any store.  
The Lemonade, meanwhile, is an astoundingly rich parfait of lemon cream, whipped mascarpone cream, strawberry jam and pistachio crumble. The initial virtual explosion of flavor comes from the mousse-like lemon component; then one by one, the complementary ingredients chime in, building up to a crescendo of sweetness. 
The hosts and chefs of Kiosk & Co. clearly pour their hearts into their work – and pleasing their customers. Judging from the lines that are already forming at meal times, Tel Aviv’s discerning public is learning to appreciate the love, and beginning to reciprocate in kind. 
Kiosk & Co. 
Not kosher
6 Herzl St, Tel Aviv 
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.