Pastel in the Tel Aviv Museum is a pleasure for the palate

Dine with the arts.

Pastel  (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
You go to most restaurants for the food; others, for the location. Pastel rates high in the second category, but the food is excellent as well.
Pastel is located in the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The interior design of the restaurant was created by architects Alon Baranowitz and Irene Kronenberg.
Winner of the 2014 International Space Design Award–Idea Tops for the world’s best designed restaurant, Pastel evokes the spirit of a classic Parisian bistro but with a little added Tel Aviv sparkle.
Pastel has three hospitality areas, each catering to a different experience: the central dining room; a terrace overlooking the museum’s sculpture garden; and a sequestered “watering hole” bar, perfect for a late-night drink or socializing with friends after dinner.
Menus in both English and Hebrew are available, and the day’s specials are detailed by attentive waiters. We perused the menu, which is minimal and interesting. Chef Hilel Tavakuli combines the finest in locally sourced ingredients for a gastronomic sensation.
Anticipating a big meal ahead of us, we announced our intentions to forgo the homemade bread basket (NIS 22) and wait for the “real food.” But it proved impossible – the bread was so fresh and tasty, it was too tempting to pass up.
Then came our appetizers. We started with the beef tartare in bone marrow (NIS 68), which included Dijon aioli, cornichons and thin French fries. Served with toasted bruschetta, the presentation was outstanding. As we took delicate bites of the perfectly cured beef mixture, I watched my companion’s eyes light up as she realized how delicious tartare could be.
Next up was Pastel’s tuna sashimi (NIS 62), consisting of curry vinaigrette, chili, Granny Smith apple, cucumber and cashews. I have been to a couple of restaurants where I would order a serving of sashimi and would receive meager cuts.
However, these guys weren’t stingy with their cuts, and each slice was fresh and succulent.
They melted in my mouth, and the presentation was simple but elegant.
With deft and friendly service, our first course was cleared and the main course soon followed.
We were presented with the organic sliced duck breast (NIS 134) served on a bed of baked sweet potato, bok choy, black garlic cream, duck stock and yuzu sauce. All the ingredients worked in perfect harmony. The texture of the duck skin had a character of its own. It was crisp yet moist – a pleasantly surprising contrast to the soft duck meat. The accompanying sweet potato complemented the duck to a T.
Last we were served the beef fillet (NIS 162) in an old-fashioned creme and brandy sauce. It was divine. The meat had a lovely crust from the searing process but was completely pink all the way through and warmed through as well. The meat was so tender, it fell apart as I cut through it. The perfect supplements, which came in very generous portions, included bone marrow, fresh spinach, grilled Portobello mushroom and mashed potatoes, which were rich in flavor.
We ordered hot drinks and took a breather. Then came dessert.
We opted for the heavenly decadent Ferrero Rocher chocolate, as well as the Black Forest cake. Both were “deviliciously” decadent.
Pastel exudes charm, and it is evident that the owners are not just creating a restaurant but a destination, with regulars who come in as much for the warmth and the friendship as for the food.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Pastel Not kosher Tel Aviv Museum of Art 27 Shaul Hamelech, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 644-7441