A neighborhood brasserie

Brown morphs into a full-fledged restaurant under chef Michal Levy

Brown restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Brown restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
The G Tzameret Mall in north Tel Aviv has become a shopping complex known as much for its restaurants and culinary destinations as for its retail outlets. One of its popular eateries is Brown, which has retained the atmosphere of a café even as it has transformed itself into a whitetablecloth restaurant since Michal Levy returned to Israel from Italy a year ago and established herself in the kitchen.
The basic food menu is in English and Hebrew, but neither the cocktail menu nor the wine list – or the menu of weekly specials – has an English version. While we did not have an easy time finding a waiter who could explain things in English, the manager turned out to be fluent.
Brown offers eight specialty cocktails, four of which feature gin.
La Dolce Vita (NIS 44) was a blend of spiced rum, orange, lime, salted almonds and passion fruit. The Grand Champagne Cocktail (NIS 53) combined cognac, mint, lemon, Granny Smith apple, chamomile, fennel and sparkling white wine. Both were garnished with flower petals and served in cut glassware. In spite of its prominence in the name, the champagne component of the cocktail got lost in the blend. The rum drink, meanwhile, was quite refreshing.
A meal started with the house bread – on our evening, an herbed focaccia, served with three dips: olive oil with balsamic vinegar; oil infused with garlic; and an addictive cherry tomato confit.
The menu advises to ask about the tasting menu, which is a sharing menu for two consisting of three appetizers, two main courses and one double dessert – a dessert of the day and some of Brown’s homemade ice cream. The cost of the tasting menu, which was our choice for the evening, is NIS 350 for two.
We were happy to leave the appetizer choices to the chef, as well as to follow her recommendations for main courses.
First was the sea fish sashimi – sea bass, on our evening. It was thinly sliced raw fish on tomato-infused olive oil with sea salt, garnished with red chili pepper. This version had a lot more olive oil flavor than is usual for sashimi, but the fish was exceedingly fresh, and fans of olive oil would have no complaints.
Next was shrimp that had been cooked in a butter and lemon sauce with spinach, garlic and roasted cherry tomato, topped with faint drizzles of goat yogurt, and served on a thick slice of dark bread toast.
The delicate shrimp were not overwhelmed by the classic sauce, which begged to be mopped up with both the slightly sour whole grain bread and the soft focaccia.
The most creative appetizer was the millefoglie, a term most commonly associated with multilayered phyllo pastry. In this adaptation, the layers were thin slices of potato, apple and pecorino cheese, garnished with fresh basil leaves. The slight crispiness of the potato, the mellow sweetness of the fruit and the sharpness of the cheese added up to a nice interplay of flavors and textures.
Chef Levy’s recommendation for the first main course was one of the weekly specials, all of which were dishes baked en croute. Our golden brown pastry shell was stuffed with grouper, lemon slices, kalamata olives, dill and garlic confit. The moist and flavorful fish inside the perfectly baked dough convinced me that this is a great way of cooking and enjoying fish and that Levy has the talent to make it work.
It came with a generous salad of baby leaves, poached pears, Roquefort cheese and slivered almonds dressed in a light vinaigrette – a dish that would make an ideal lunch all on its own.
Our second main course was the one steak dish that is a permanent fixture on the menu. This butcher’s cut was served quite differently from the ordinary presentation: Tender, succulent morsels of beef suffused with a butter and wine sauce were tossed with broccoli florets and assorted mushrooms on a bed of arugula leaves.
Desserts, which change daily, are not on the menu; the wait staff will either explain them or invite you to a display case to view them. The Black Forest mousse was a decadent chocolate-cherry delight, and the lemon meringue in a glass topped with toasted hazelnuts was positively intense. Either makes a memorable finale to a fine meal.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Brown Not kosher G Tzameret Mall 10 Nissim Aloni St., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 544-4024