Kofinas: Culinary chemistry in the countryside

A rural bistro that serves comfort food with flair.

A rural bistro that serves comfort food with flair (photo credit: RONI NEHMAD)
A rural bistro that serves comfort food with flair
(photo credit: RONI NEHMAD)
Kofinas, an attractive restaurant located in a moshav in the Sharon, with al fresco seating surrounded by greenery, is the kind of relaxing, country place popular with families on weekends. But the quality of the food is such that it draws patrons during the week as well.
Kofinas, whose name reflects the Greek antecedents who founded the moshav that is its home, started out as a Balkan restaurant. Over the years, and after acquiring an Italian pizza oven, the cuisine expanded westward, while retaining some of its classic favorites. The secret of this Mediterranean bistro today is the talent of the kitchen that can turn out gourmet dishes alongside traditional crowd-pleasers like pizza and pasta.
The full bar offers eight specialty cocktails (NIS 38 to 45), most of them fruity and refreshing, including two house sangrias – white in summer and red (cold and warm) in winter.
The food menu comprises five sections: Entrées (NIS 38 to 59), Pasta (NIS 59 to 87), Salad (NIS 52 to 56), Pizza (NIS 53 to 71) and Main Courses (NIS 68 to 111). There are vegetarian or vegan options in all but the last category.
As we perused the menu, we nibbled on the house focaccia (NIS 27), which emerges piping hot from the pizza oven and is accompanied by a garlicky aioli, zesty salsa and olive oil with just a hint of balsamic vinegar.
There is a nice variety of hot and cold appetizers, but we were urged to try the two newest ones, both featuring raw fish: sea bream ceviche with apple cubes, red onion, chili, coriander, mint, olive oil and lemon on eggplant cream, and salmon tartare with beetroot, kohlrabi, sprouts, red onion, chili, lemon and balsamic vinaigrette.
Aside from the fact that what is called ceviche here bears little resemblance to the real thing in Latin America,and the slices of raw fish in what is called tartare are much larger than in traditional versions, both starters had a lot going on besides the fish; care has to be taken, therefore, not to let the secondary ingredients overwhelm the main event. In spite of the confusing names, overall we found the dishes flavorful and satisfying.
For those wanting at least one sizzling appetizer, you can’t go wrong with the mouthwatering shrimp in lemon-butter sauce with garlic and white wine.
In the pasta category, we were similarly steered to the two new entries: linguini arrabiata and beef filet rigatoni. The former – al dente spaghetti-thin strands in a spicy tomato sauce – could have used something to complement the plain pasta, perhaps eggplant, zucchini or chicken; nevertheless, the sauce was just right, leaving a pleasant tingle of heat in the mouth after each forkful.
The generous portion of rigatoni, on the other hand, was as complex as the linguini was simple: fat tubes of ribbed pasta together with delectable chunks of premium beef filet, all drenched in a peppery cream sauce. Enhanced with a topping of broad ribbons of shaved Parmesan cheese, this hearty dish was delicious and filling comfort food.
There is only one new main dish on the menu: la entrecote, cubes of steak on a bed of pesto, accompanied by an undressed lettuce and purple onion side salad. The savory pesto was a worthy stand-in for chimichurri, accenting the succulent morsels of perfectly grilled steak.
My vegetarian companion, meanwhile, greatly enjoyed the lentil and herb salad – black lentils, parsley, cilantro, mint, cranberries, toasted almonds and Parmesan, dressed with a lemon vinaigrette – a mélange that delivers a terrific interplay of flavors and textures.
Desserts at Kofinas (NIS 37 to 46) have their own separate menu, which has so far not been revised, although we were told that some new baked treats are in the works. There are two desserts sure to delight chocolate-lovers: the eponymous Kofinas Boom is a decadent extravaganza of a warm chocolate-nut brownie, crême pâtissière, amarena cherries and macaroons, while the Chocolate Nemesis is a wedge of rich, fudgy cake that melts in the mouth.
Finally, I am not generally a fan of Israeli apple crumble, but the version here is superlative: warm, tender slices of apple laced liberally with cinnamon under a layer of crunchy, golden-brown shortcake crumble and a scoop of melting ice cream.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
HaShibbolim St. 3, Moshav Tzur Moshe
Tel. (09) 772-2672