Make yourself comfortable

Flavorful home cooking is the order of the day at Habayit be’Olesh

Habayit be’Olesh (photo credit: PR)
Habayit be’Olesh
(photo credit: PR)
Olesh is a moshav in Emek Hefer, founded in 1951 by Romanian immigrants, many of them Holocaust survivors. Today, it is home to about 1,000 people and is the place where Habayit be’Olesh (The House in Olesh) was set up about four years ago.
It’s a kosher dairy restaurant in a huge old barn-like building (on reflection, it might well have been a barn once) where Maya Dan, a daughter of the moshav, presides over gourmet meals cooked by chef Assaf David in these improbable surroundings.
Invited to sample the fare recently, we drove through beautiful rustic scenery one evening and found the place nestled behind towering trees and surrounded by well-tended gardens. The drive took about 20 minutes from Netanya.
Opting to sit inside because the night air was still chilly, we looked around at the décor, which could be described as rustic chic. Brass pots and chandeliers of all shapes and sizes were suspended from the high ceiling, while old writing desks, vitrines and a piano added to the vintage look. We realized that this was a restaurant doubling as an antique shop.
The meal began with a plate of homemade stone-baked focaccia, topped with rosemary and thyme (NIS 32). Three dips accompanied the bread – a creamy aubergine; cream cheese; and the ubiquitous oil and balsamic. In quick succession, another two hors d’oeuvres appeared – smoked salmon pate (NIS 44) and grilled vegetables (NIS 44).
The pate was a lovely shade of pale pink and tasted of many good things – smoked salmon, of course, cream and perhaps lemon. It came with tiny cubes of fresh beetroot and a jam-like onion confit. A great starter.
The other dish was antipasti, which is the Israeli way of saying roasted vegetables. It consisted of sliced sweet potatoes, three kinds of peppers, mozzarella and a whole head of garlic, which was so good that we polished off the whole thing without worrying too much about the consequences of being personae non gratae the next day to anyone unfortunate enough to have to talk to us.
Next to arrive was a chef’s salad full of the usual salad ingredients plus slivered fruit, cranberries and carrot sticks, the whole thing topped with crispy deep-fried shavings of sweet potato (NIS 57).
Another unusual dish we tried was beetroot gnocchi – dainty purple balls of dough filled with cream cheese in a marvelous cream sauce flavored with muscat and garnished with slivered almonds (NIS 62).
The main dish was baked salmon in a lemon-mustard sauce with risotto Milanese (NIS 98). I can’t rave enough about this dish. The salmon was very much enhanced by the piquant sauce, but the risotto was divine. Redolent with wine herbs and butter, it was truly a treat for the taste buds.
After a meal like that, we couldn’t consider dessert but enjoyed looking at the glossy pictures on the dessert menu (NIS 36). For diners with more stamina, there is cheesecake, chocolate soufflé, no-sugar apple crumble and pecan pie.
In Hebrew, bayit means “home” as well as “house,” and that’s what you get at Habayit be’Olesh – home cooking at its best.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Habayit be’Olesh Kosher dairy 43 Sderot Hayogev Moshav Olesh, Emek Hefer Tel: (09) 793-2822 Sunday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday night: 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.