French food with an Italian accent

Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa.

Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The small streets surrounding the Haifa port in the recently developed downtown Haifa area reminds me of many European cities, with bars and coffee shops spilling onto the cobbled streets and sidewalks. So it is very fitting that when you walk into Hanamal 24, the European theme continues, with the restaurant’s décor reminiscent of a rural Italian courtyard. Although the eatery seats 80 diners, the layout, with its numerous nooks and side rooms, creates an intimate space for all patrons, even on a busy night.
Hanamal 24 is the brainchild of restaurateur Guy Avital and chef Ran Rosh. Rosh trained in France and worked at a two-Michelin star restaurant before returning to Israel to start working with Avital. The menu is in the style of a traditional French bistro with Italian influences.
Avital recommended that we order the tasting menu (NIS 299) so we could try most of the restaurant’s signature dishes.
We started with rosemary grissini with smoked eggplant and crushed tomato dips (NIS 14). Although the bread was tasty, it was much too soft to be classed as grissini. I would have preferred more of a crunch to the crust. The whipped cream of onion soup (NIS 38) was rich and creamy, unlike traditional onion soups. The artichoke salad, which included rocket, caramelized almonds and delicious aged Parmesan (NIS 42), was one of our favorite dishes and had a lovely combination of flavors and textures, despite being served with too much dressing. We enjoyed the salmon ceviche in lime and vanilla with onion shanti (NIS 55), which had an interesting and fresh flavor profile. The purple calamari with tomato seeds, smoked roasted eggplant, chili and crème fraiche (NIS 45) was also good. My companion found the calamari to be soft and well cooked.
The liver pâté with brandy, pears cooked in saffron and brioche (NIS 48) was another favorite dish. The pâté was light and creamy, and the roasted brioche reminded me of cornbread. The final starter was the beef sirloin tartare with capers, black sesame tahini, shallots and chili brioche croutons (NIS 59), which had a good overall flavor.
We were surprised that after so many appetizers, we were served only three dishes from the main course section, but by then we were already pretty full.
The beef fillet pieces with chestnuts, zucchini, fresh chili and beef stock (NIS 118) were perfectly cooked, with a distinctive grilled flavor. And I found the tagliatelle and porcini mushrooms, served with soft goat cheese, leeks and truffle cream (NIS 78), to be rich and well seasoned.
Finally, the grilled fillet of drum fish with Gouda cheese risotto, fish stock and onion cream (NIS 122) was a fine dish but didn’t have any stand-out flavors.
To accompany the meal, we enjoyed a refreshing glass of Kna’an Rosé by Dalton 2016 (NIS 35) to start, followed by a bottle of Vitkin Blend 24 2014 (NIS 185), a blend of Carignan, Syrah, Cabernet France and Argaman.
Exclusive to Hanamal 24, that wine went well with both the meat and fish dishes.
We finished the meal with three desserts recommended by our waitress. The pistachio crème brûlée (NIS 45) was glazed at the table, which was a novel touch. The dish was rich and creamy with a good pistachio flavor. We could not believe that the chocolate mousse (NIS 42) was sugar-free. It was light and not too rich. Finally, the apple crumble (NIS 38) was very flavorful, but the topping was very dry and there was too much of it.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Hanamal 24. The service was very attentive, and the restaurant provided an authentic taste of Europe in downtown Haifa.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Hanamal 24
Not kosher
24 Hanamal St., Haifa Tel: (04) 862-8899 Monday – Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, noon to 10 p.m.
Saturday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.