Regina revisited

This restaurant in the Tachana is convivial, creative and kosher.

Regina restaurant  (photo credit: PR)
Regina restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
It was the coldest night of the year so far – and wet in the bargain. Tel Aviv in drizzling rain is not the most cheerful place on Earth, but every table at Regina in the Tachana (the old railway station) was full.
There were couples out for a romantic evening, long tables of work parties, and people having family celebrations, all enjoying the convivial atmosphere and what turned out to be great food.
Proprietors Tsippy Lev and Nir Shafrir were there, as they are most nights, to greet guests and explain some of the ideas behind Regina, the only kosher eatery in the gentrified Tachana, where visitors walk over long-unused railway tracks that once led to Lebanon and Syria (if you changed at Haifa) to reach arty shops and wagons from the old days now converted into cafes and tourist-type shopping arcades.
The restaurant defines itself as a place that serves traditional Jewish food from the many different ethnic backgrounds that make up the population of Israel, but with a modern twist. The owners also wanted to showcase some interesting additions to the menu.
The simple décor – wooden tables, unpolished parquet floors and a tree growing in the middle of it all – makes for an attractive and inviting setting.
For starters, several dishes arrived at our table, together with what looked like a very fat pita, which we were told was Moroccan bread. This was very good – crispy on the outside and white and fluffy within, and just the thing to dip into the garlic-impregnated oil and zaatar that came with it (NIS 19).
Four separate dishes arrived at our table: a citrus salad of fresh oranges and grapefruit segments on seasoned baby leaves with kohlrabi chips – very refreshing (NIS 42); a plate of chopped liver, which was very smooth and pate-like, with a rich sweet flavor, undiluted, we suspect, with the usual hard-boiled eggs (NIS 38); a mound of ceviche – fresh sea bream diced and mixed with parsley, chopped peppers and other herbs in a lemony sauce (NIS 32); and a roasted eggplant garnished with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts with a spoon of tehina on the side (NIS 32).
All the hors d’oeuvres were excellent and consumed with enthusiasm, so much so that by the time the main courses arrived, neither I nor my dining companion was very hungry. Nevertheless, we were able to note that the baked sea bream, served with stir-fried root vegetables, was very good, wonderfully fresh and perfectly cooked – although I did not like the way the fish had fixed his reproachful gaze on me. Next time, I will have it filleted (NIS 82). The spring chicken stuffed with rice and dried fruit was redolent of cinnamon and other spices and was a real comfort food for a cold night (NIS 65).
Desserts were apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and chocolate volcano with coconut ice cream – both ending an outstanding meal with just the right touch of sweetness.
The owners of Regina are full of good ideas. There’s a tasting menu for NIS 150 per person, as well as Crazy Monday when patrons can have an entire meal for NIS 99 from 4 p.m. onwards.
Parties of up to 60 can be catered to in winter and up to 180 in summer when the garden can be used.
The restaurant is situated in a handsome old building from Turkish times with archways and wooden shutters, and the atmosphere is invariably warm and hospitable. Regina is a kosher restaurant that is good to have around.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
The Tachana, Building 10
2 Kaufman St., Neveh Tzedek
Tel: 0539-428-604; (03) 736-7474
Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday 10 a.m. to one hour before Shabbat.
Saturday, one hour after Shabbat to 1 a.m.