Dining: Gourmet food at the Marina

Dinner at Bistro 56 is an experience in fine dining.

Bistro 56 restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Bistro 56 restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
Since it was opened in 2004 (56 years after the establishment of the state – hence the name), Bistro 56 has built a reputation as a convenient place to stop for lunch if you are shopping at the Arena mall or visiting the Herzliya Marina.
But in the evening, it takes on a whole new dimension and becomes an elegant gourmet restaurant with white linen tablecloths and napkins, candles in lanterns casting a soft romantic glow, and soft background music.
Recently my companion and I were invited to taste the dinner menu and were pleasantly surprised to discover the very high standard of the cuisine on offer.
Although it is considered a meat restaurant, fish and vegetarian food are also available, and the menu offers a variety of choices in all the separate courses.
Ron, the friendly manager, greeted us on arrival and found us a perfect table for two on the glassed-in balcony looking out at the yachts moored in the harbor for the night. Wall-mounted electric heaters took care of the winter chill without being obtrusive.
Much to our relief, Ron asked if we would prefer that he choose the food we were going to sample. We readily agreed, as the menu offered so many potentially exciting dishes that choosing would have been a headache.
While many upscale restaurants nowadays bring bread and dips to fill in the waiting time until the appetizers arrive, at Bistro 56 they don’t, which suited us fine because the food comes in very generous portions.
Four different starters were placed on the table, and we began to taste the delights that chef Gabi Ohana had dreamed up.
The piece de resistance was a huge Portobello mushroom filled with ground meat and served in a rich red wine sauce. (NIS 55). It was totally delicious. Contrasting with this was another signature dish, pastiya, which is a parcel of crispy filo pastry filled with more minced meat and dried fruit. This had a completely different flavor, slightly sweet and tasting of cinnamon (NIS 49).
To make sure we appreciated that the chef had other starters up his sleeve, we were also presented with a plate of wafer-thin carpaccio garnished with salad leaves, toast triangles and a piquant dressing; and an Israeli salad, freshly cut, which came with a creamy non-garlicky tehina dressing and tastes of mint and parsley (NIS 55).
Having eaten our fill of the four starters, the main dishes quickly appeared, mercifully only one each.
My companion picked his perennial favorite – lamb chops served with sautéed sweet and regular potatoes and mushrooms (NIS 185). They were tender and tasty, and he dissected the meat from the bones with the skill of the surgeon he is until nothing but bare bones remained on the plate.
I was served the fillet steak. This was superb – not a gram of fat, medium rare yet soft and melting (NIS 165). The accompaniments were runner beans and mixed white and wild rice.
The dessert menu was also very broad, and again Ron helped us by bringing a selection to our table. We tasted pear and almond pie – a mouth-watering cake pastry filled with ground almonds and caramelized pears, served with homemade ice cream; a passion-fruit mousse coated in white chocolate; and a vanilla mousse coated in dark chocolate.
All of them were as great as they sound (NIS 42).
After such a meal, the mint tea we were served rounded it all off nicely. Before leaving, we were shown the various private rooms off the main dining area and saw that Bistro 56, as well as being a top-class restaurant, is also a great place to hold a party.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Bistro 56
The Arena Mall, Herzliya
Tel: (09) 956-5181