Greece in Netanya

Souvlaki has much more on its kosher menu than its name implies.

Greek food from Souvlaki  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Greek food from Souvlaki
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Greek cuisine with a local touch” is how the proprietors of Souvlaki describe their product. Perched on the cliffs at Blue Bay in Netanya, the restaurant has an uninterrupted view of the sea, from both the spacious interior and the large outdoor patio.
With a storm raging outside, where to sit was a no-brainer.
Inside, the place was snug and cozy, with electric wall-heaters situated at regular intervals, ersatz palm trees and a very well-stocked bar. Greek music played softly in the background, and a glass of ouzo appeared almost before we sat down.
The chef at Souvlaki, Uri Arnon, is Swiss but the kosher menu is completely Greek. We tried one of the many homemade cocktails on offer – a pink combination of ouzo, grapefruit juice, Cointreau and rosewater, which tasted innocuous but had quite a kick.
Our first appetizer of mixed hors d’oeuvres had some very original dishes, as well as the more familiar ones. The “crab” cocktail with chopped salad was bland and slightly sweet. As we had no idea what the real thing tastes like, I can’t say if it was authentic or not, but it was pleasant enough and didn’t taste fishy.
The aubergine cream had a good smoky flavor and was topped with black sesame seeds and came with hot Greek flat bread.
Somehow they managed to produce a passable tzatziki, although the restaurant is not dairy. Flavored with lots of dill and garlic, it did a very good rendition of the real thing.
The stuffed vine leaves – dolmas – filled with rice and meat were delicious – lemony and slightly sweet. More tzatziki was spread on the top as a sauce. The last starter was scordia, an almond cream which was salty and piquant.
For the main course I chose the moussaka (NIS 69), which I often make at home. I find it quite a challenge for a kosher cook, as the meat and eggplant mixture is supposed to be topped with dairy béchamel sauce. This moussaka came in its own casserole and included slices of courgettes (zucchini), as well as the more standard ingredients. It stayed hot, was very tasty, and the béchamel was creamy. The whole thing was a real comfort food on a cold night.
My dining companion chose the lamb shwarma – crispy pieces of meat served with very peppery eggplant chunks (NIS 69). It reminded me of the street shwarma we used to get back in the olden days when the vendors cooked lamb rather than turkey as they do now.
For dessert, one could choose various sorbets or halva mousse (NIS 38), but we plumped for the malabi as being a typical Middle Eastern dish. This one was creamy with a flavor of rose petals and was topped with a berry syrup (NIS 38).
It tasted like old-fashioned custard and was good without being too sweet.
We look forward to going back to Souvlaki in warmer weather and sitting on the patio watching the waves break on the sand not far below.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Souvlaki Kosher 35 Hamelachim St., Netanya Tel: 053-937-7029 Sun. to Thurs., noon to 1:30 a.m.
Friday, noon till Shabbat begins Saturday, one hour after Shabbat