Carnivore's delight

Hatraklin Meat and Wine Bistro does both right.

A restaurant at Hatraklin Meat and Wine Bistro (photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
A restaurant at Hatraklin Meat and Wine Bistro
(photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
Winemaker and restaurateur Yossi Ben Udis has come a long way from his childhood in a disadvantaged neighborhood in the development town of Hatzor Haglilit. Working as a teenager on the Vered Hagalil Guest Farm, he was exposed to premium beef and wine being served in the property’s fine dining restaurant, where he developed an appreciation that grew into a passion for oenology.
He studied to become a sommelier and went on to establish an award-winning winery, Chateau de Galilee, and open a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Hatraklin (The Lounge).
Several years ago, Hatraklin relocated to a historic building in Neveh Tzedek, where an interactive experience awaits.
The restaurant specializes in beef from the Golan Heights, which is then aged in-house for three to four weeks. The food menu comprises eight starters (NIS 36 – NIS 52) and 11 main dishes (NIS 78 – NIS 168) – all beef, apart from one chicken and one lamb dish. There is also a whole charcuterie section consisting of four types of sausage (NIS 48), as well as several vegetarian options among the starters and main courses.
Both our knowledgeable waiters spoke excellent English and were eager to introduce us to the specialties of the house. As our first starter, they recommended one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: chicken liver pâté with onion jam, served with toast points. One taste of the rich spread, paired perfectly with the expertly spiced marmalade, was enough to understand why the restaurant takes such pride in it.
Next was the house’s Caesar salad, which at first seemed an uninspired choice. But we were in for a pleasant surprise. In a country where most restaurants take unbelievable liberties by applying the label “Caesar” to all sorts of salad combinations, it was a welcome change to enjoy this truly authentic version: Romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, grated Parmesan and a deliciously zesty dressing made with unmistakably real anchovies.
Seared sirloin was the first steak listed on the menu, and it took pride of place with good reason. Slices of red meat were brought to the table along with a hot stone, for cooking at the table. At their own pace, diners drape the meat on the sizzling rock for just a few seconds on each side, then savor tender, flavorful sirloin that melts in the mouth.
The Roka steak, meanwhile, was another rare treat, made from highly prized Wagyu beef imported from Japan. Shaved slices of medium-rare rump steak were piled high together with sautéed onion, discs of roasted potato and Parmesan-flecked greens. This generous portion of positively succulent beef was more than enough for two to share.
Hatraklin is also known for its extensive collection of some 500 wines, curated exclusively from 160 Israeli boutique wineries. The wait staff will offer tastes until customers find their wine of choice.
We sampled three wines from the owner’s winery: a pleasant white blend of Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and Muscat, and two full-bodied reds – Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – both well suited for pairing with steak.
There were five desserts on the menu (NIS 42 – NIS 52), plus two rotating specials. Once again, we followed our waiter’s suggestions, starting with the house knaffeh: the familiar kadaif topped with pistachio and filled uniquely with apple, pear and homemade ricotta cheese. This unusually delicate version of what has become a near-ubiquitous presence on Israeli dessert menus was surprisingly light for the genre but still packed a lot of flavor.
Chocolate is always featured among the desserts, and on our evening it was available as a chocolate sphere filled with white chocolate and almonds perched on a bed of strawberry carpaccio and drenched with rich hot chocolate poured tableside. As befits a restaurant with a dessert called “Death by chocolate,” this was an appropriately decadent variation.
Although a restaurant with such sublime meat and wine choices needs no gimmicks, there is an innovation at Hatraklin that has become a popular Tel Aviv culinary/ cultural institution. Several evenings a week is movie night, when food and banquet scenes from films are screened, while the audience is served a fixed menu meal. (Unlike the restaurant’s regular printed menu, which is bilingual, the menu on movie night is in Hebrew only.) Hatraklin also occasionally sponsors tours of the Carmel Market, culminating in an optional dinner.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Hatraklin Meat and Wine Bistro Not kosher 4 Heichal Hatalmud, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 566-0013