Dining on ‘Peeping Tom’s beach

At Mezizim, the ambiance and service are casual, while the food is top-notch.

Mezizim (photo credit: TOM HOLIGANOV)
(photo credit: TOM HOLIGANOV)
Ever since the iconic Israeli film Metzitzim (Peeping Toms) – starring a young Uri Zohar, long before his days as a rabbi and Shas supporter – hit movie screens in 1972, the Tel Aviv beach of the same name has been among the most popular in the Big Orange. Fueling the non-stop activity on this inviting stretch of white sand is an eponymous restaurant with an ambitious menu that has diners covered from the early morning hours until long after the sun goes down.
Brought to you by the same people who own Seatara (reviewed last year in the Post), Mezizim is a sprawling, largely open-air restaurant and bar, with a number of seating sections. There is an indoor area with wooden floor and ceiling, but most seating is al fresco, under large umbrellas that can be retracted in the evenings. Some tables and chairs are on a stone patio, others on synthetic grass and still more on the sandy beach itself.
The service at Mezizim reflects a laid-back beach atmosphere: wait staff are dressed in shorts and t-shirts, and are prone to dancing to the lively, rhythmic background music while working; consequently, they are not always in a hurry to take your order or bring your next course. Although there is a detailed menu in English, not all waiters have a good grasp of the language.
For a place with a full bar and a plenty of alcohol, there is a surprisingly short cocktail list, and no specialty cocktails as such. Still, with our waiter’s help, we were able to identify two that seemed unique: the Pink Pineapple (NIS 49) and the Brazilian mohito (sic) (NIS 56).
The former – rum, with pineapple and a hint of strawberry – was garnished with a large slice of fresh pineapple, while the latter – based on acai vodka – was chock full of mint and lemon. Both were enjoyable and refreshing, in a tropical island sort of way.
The extensive food menu comprises no fewer than eight sections: Breakfast (including a subsection of dishes served all day), Nibbles, Starters, Salads, Pizza and Pasta, Sandwiches and Toasted Bagels, Kid’s Meals, Main Courses and Desserts. The main courses represent a nice variety of fish, seafood, chicken and meat; on the whole, there are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians.
As we waited for our starters, we nibbled on the house bread (NIS 28), a loaf of warm frena dusted with sea salt, and served with an unremarkable tomato salsa. Fortunately, it lasted throughout the meal.
FOR THE most part, the English on the menu is reasonably straightforward and detailed, but there are some confusing mistranslations that can be misleading. Both the ceviche and the fish cakes are described as seafood, when actually they were fish. Further explanation from the waiter was no more helpful. We were told the fishcakes were sea bass, but when they arrived, they were salmon. To the restaurant’s credit, they immediately offered to bring a replacement; and while we did not eat the salmon croquettes, we could see they were the real thing, with very little filler.
The appetizer we did eat, despite continued inaccuracies in language and ingredients, was the pan-fried artichokes, with pesto and fried onions (NIS 52). Succulent is not a word often used to describe vegetables, but in this case it is the most appropriate term for the excellent, tender artichokes.
For our main courses, we did indulge in the seafood. The purple calamari on the plancha (NIS 75) had the snap attesting to its extreme freshness, and all the flavor of squid grilled just right. While the accompanying yogurt, red and yellow cherry tomatoes and purple onion enhanced the calamari nicely, the chopped eggplant salad was unexceptional.
The shrimp in cava butter (NIS 79), meanwhile, was a dish where the sauce vied for attention with the medium-sized shrimp. The unusual sauce made with butter, sparkling wine, garlic, parsley, basil and both red and green chili pepper was spicy, but it did not overwhelm the excellent shrimp.
Most of the six desserts (NIS 40) looked like familiar fixtures on many Tel Aviv restaurant menus, but the Crunchy Lotus Cube sounded uniquely intriguing. It turned out to be cheesecake topped with a thin layer of Lotus Biscoff spread, with drizzles of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes – a winning combination of sweet flavors.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher.
Habakkuk Hanavi St. 1, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 711-8181.