Savor the flavor

Among its many good dishes, Café Noir serves schnitzel that is superb.

A dish at Café Noir restaurant (photo credit: Courtesy)
A dish at Café Noir restaurant
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If there is a secret to being successful in the restaurant industry, Café Noir has certainly uncovered it.
Since opening more than 20 years ago on Tel Aviv’s Ahad Ha’am Street, Café Noir has established a regular clientele and promises a packed house nearly every night of the week, making reservations an absolute must. It is a favorite among many locals and visitors who are looking for a place where they can enjoy a fine dining experience, as well as the best schnitzel bar none.
The restaurant is on the small side, warm and welcoming, with wooden furniture. There is an enclosed terrace that is a smoking area, and there’s a long, well-equipped bar with high stools in the main dining room. Both Hebrew and English menus are available, and the day’s specials are detailed by attentive waiters. We perused the menu, which was minimal and interesting, offering an array of salads, pasta, fish and meat dishes.
Upon being seated, we noticed that the bartender was mixing drinks with great gusto. Our waiter reeled off a choice of cocktails, but we stuck to habit and went for the classic Moscow Mules (NIS 39). It was a pleasure watching them being mixed with top-quality ingredients.
Although they were a touch too sweet, they were exceptional and beautifully served.
We started our meal with the spicy tuna crostini (NIS 58). This was a whirlwind of sauces and flavors, competing with the delectable raw fish. The quality was exceptional. After finishing this dish, I appreciated how each little garnish and sauce had a distinct purpose.Next up was the Druse pita (NIS 52) filled with lamb and beef, served with a side of tzatziki. The lamb was seasoned to perfection, there was a good portion of meat, and the presentation was very appetizing. It was very tasty, with a lot of spices and flavors to stimulate the taste buds.
Next up was the Caesar salad (NIS 44/NIS 52 with chicken), which was delicious, crunchy and perfectly dressed. The Romaine lettuce had a surprising sweetness that paired well with the not too creamy nor salty dressing. The croutons were crusty but saturated with dressing flavor. The roasted chicken strips were moist and juicy and well marinated. Fresh anchovies and shaved Parmesan were a nice touch. I savored every last bite of it.
For mains, we opted for the chicken schnitzel (NIS 67) and the veal schnitzel (NIS 79). I’ll admit that I haven’t tried anything else on the menu, though. It’s hard to explore the restaurant’s other options when the schnitzel is so darn delicious! Thinly sliced, crispy crunchy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, with just a squeeze of lemon, both schnitzel dishes were perfect. This combined with the accompanying mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes was definitely a winning combination. The dishes also came with a side salad that was very tasty.
Also, the portions are huge, so unless you want leftovers, you can share the dish with someone else and be fully satisfied. Comfort food at its best.
Already bursting, we politely declined dessert, but our waitress would have none of that, so we tried the devilishly decadent chocolate nemesis (NIS 39) with espresso sauce. A decidedly good choice.
With the type and quality of food served at Café Noir, the place could easily be one of those pretentious restaurants where nobody speaks above a whisper. But Café Noir makes you feel comfortable, while still serving an upscale crowd. After eating at many trendy chef restaurants that try to reinvent cooking, it was so refreshing to have what can only be described as very good food.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Café Noir Not kosher 43 Ahad Ha’Am St., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 566-3018