Food: A Mediterranean melting pot

Cameo has an eclectic charm, with a menu to match

Cameo restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Cameo restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
At Hatahana, one of the most historical areas of Tel Aviv, old meets new, and Cameo embraces all of the old train station’s magic. Stepping inside, one is immediately greeted by the restaurant’s eclectic, almost otherworldly charm. It is an intimate place. A sleek lounge bar functions as the centerpiece of the restaurant, and customers can either sit there for a quick drink or at one of the surrounding tables. One can also enjoy the outdoor open terrace, which plays host to live music, with private cabanas for intimate parties.
Cameo’s menu is a Mediterranean culinary melting pot, and the food on offer is simple yet luxurious and indulgent. Famed local chef Arik Wakil’s (formerly of Nana) knowledge of food versatility was apparent in the taster’s platters we were served.
After my dining companion and I sat down, our enthusiastic waitress began to bring us a selection of starters. First up was the papaya salad (NIS 64) with peanuts, mint and coriander. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I’ve tried similar dishes before, but this one really captured the goal of a papaya salad, and the flavors and textures came together perfectly. Sweet, sour, salty, acidic, crunchy, all in one bite. Thinly shredded papaya, peanuts and a delicious vinegar dressing. I was pretty impressed after just trying this.
This was followed by the foie gras (NIS 88). It was velvety, creamy, and rich – a decadent first bite, to be sure. The plate came with brioche and a pat of yellow chutney, and the latter was a much-needed addition. In contrast to the liver, the chutney contributed some sweetness and acidity, while the brioche served as a crisp, lightly charred vessel to balance out each bite.
In between, we were treated to a variety of delicious cocktails, which included a watermelon frozen margarita (NIS 52) and a blood orange mojito (NIS 52). Next up was a beef carpaccio (NIS 64), which was done perfectly. The beef was sliced thin and flavorful, with a smoky finish – all the flavors really cured the rawness of the beef. I also loved how the intense flavors of the Parmesan cheese added to the delicate flavor of the carpaccio.
Next, it was on to mains. We began with the white pizza (NIS 72) with artichokes, fresh mozzarella and arugula. The combination was delicious but a bit dry. I wish it had more flavor to it, and the mozzarella was a bit heavy. Overall, still pretty good.
We were then served the strozzapreti with beef fillet, asparagus and sun-dried cherry tomatoes (NIS 87). Strozzapreti means “strangle the priest” – basically a chewier pasta that looks like it’s been wrung, hence the name. The different textures in the pasta made it fun to eat. It was nice to try something different than the usual spaghetti or linguini noodles. I would definitely go back for that dish.
From there I was expecting dessert, but to my surprise we were served the beef fillet (NIS 148). Being South African, I was now a very happy diner. The meat was moist, well seasoned and had a nice juicy chew.
For dessert we were presented with a chocolate-covered creme brulée surrounded by cookie crumbles and served with a macaroon. Our waitress then proceeded to pour hot chocolate sauce on top of the brulée. Even though we had eaten far too much already, we strove valiantly to finish this rich cocoa creation We left very satisfied with what we’d eaten, what we’d seen and where we’d dined.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
Hatachana, Neveh Tzedek, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 558-985