Good food in the gas station

Newly kosher restaurant Zoya Grill Bar brings the best of the English pub atmosphere to Netanya

Zoya Grill Bar (photo credit: Courtesy)
Zoya Grill Bar
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There seems to be a new trend among kosher meat restaurants to open inside gas stations. In the last year we’ve encountered three.
This one, situated on one of the main roads into Netanya, is the domain of Avi Freedberg, the proprietor and the man wielding the tongs in front of the grill.
Zoya has been around for a year-and-a-half, but in yet another trend, became kosher a couple of months ago. Several restaurant owners have come to the conclusion that it’s economically sensible to go kosher, as well as enjoying the fact that Shabbat can be spent at home with the family.
As soon as we sat down, a selection of small dishes with salads appeared on the table. There were nine: olives, pickled cabbage, sliced carrots, eggplant salad, roasted peppers, Israeli salad, humus with oil, tehina with harif, and pickled coleslaw. All were very fresh and good, quite peppery, which was fine with us. The humus was especially good, and we were told it was home-made, as indeed were all the salads.
We had already ordered a shared first course of humus with hot mushrooms, not knowing we would be getting humus anyway. But it proved to be equally good, the same humus embellished with a sauce of hot fresh mushrooms – a delicious combination (NIS 36).
My companion was going to order his usual lamb chops, but Naor, our 16-year-old waiter, suggested he take the mixed grill, which included chops as well as skewers of steak and chicken (NIS 152). This came with piping hot home-made French fries and was demolished with enthusiasm.
My choice was grilled chicken breast with a side of grilled vegetables (NIS 66). It was seasoned with a great deal of black pepper, had the good charcoal flavor of the grill, and was juicy without a hint of dryness.
We waited rather longer than we thought necessary for our beers, especially as Naor didn’t seem that busy. He finally clarified the delay by explaining that he was under-aged and not allowed to touch alcohol! A kind waitress took pity on us and brought us our drinks.
Looking around at the décor while waiting, I had the strong feeling I was actually in an English pub. Lots of wooden benches, high bar stools, a faux blond parquet floor, and a wall length photo of a hedgerow all contributed to the feeling.
We were able to persuade the uxorious Avi (three times divorced) to come over for a chat between courses, and the rather dour host was smiling happily by the end of our personal encounter. 
Desserts were pareve malabi – a kind of blancmange with rose-flavored pink syrup – and coconut sorbet. Both were good and provided a perfect balance to what was an excellent meal.
Zoya Grill Bar
Max Nordau St. 20, Netanya
Tel: 09-886-2200,
Sun-Th: 11 a.m-late, Fri: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.