Something Fishy

Chef Ilan Mizrachi of Tel Aviv’s Decca restaurant serves wonderful dishes in what some describe as the most beautiful restaurant in Israel.

Decca (photo credit: ASSAF CARLA)
(photo credit: ASSAF CARLA)
An invitation to return to Decca restaurant in the heart of Tel-Aviv was greeted with much elation. It has been described by one reviewer as “the most beautiful restaurant in Israel” and the décor is certainly out of the ordinary and very eye-catching, mainly because of the gold-painted wooden trellis covering the walls, known to the initiated as a “mashrabiya” and evoking the exotic Moorish palaces where it originates.
Walking into Decca, through a narrow pathway lined with trees and plants one finds oneself in a large classy eatery, the tables sporting starched white linen tablecloths, linen napkins and good quality cutlery. On each table, a lit candle casts a romantic glow.
Even before we had time to take in the surroundings, a plate of home-made focaccia appeared together with five different dips, all home-made and all tasting very fresh with an emphasis on flavor and spiciness.
There were tahini, tzatziki, oil and balsamic, labane and ikra. We especially liked the tahini, very smooth and piquant, the tzatziki topped with slivered almonds and the ikra (fish roe) which was as salty and fishy as it should be. Even the balsamic tasted better than usual. (NIS 24).
My companion chose a market salad for a starter. It was made mostly of arugula – a great leaf – with radish slices, cucumbers, peppers and another blob of labane in the middle. (NIS 42).
I chose sea-fish sashimi with orange segments and yogurt. (NIS 60). Both dishes were light, pleasantly seasoned and just the thing to precede the more substantial dishes which were to come.
For the main course, I chose a fillet of bass, baked in the oven with a crumb coating, and a green salad. (NIS 99). Although not fried, it was crispy on the outside and just right within. The fish was ultra-fresh and the salad consisted mostly of mixed leaves with the odd caper thrown in for variety, a few cherry tomatoes and, clearly a favorite garnish, slivered almonds.
My fellow eater opted for a whole baked sea-bream (denis), an aristocratic fish with a subtle yet distinctive flavor. (NIS 140).
It was clearly a successful choice as, when he had finished, all that remained on the plate were a fish vertebrae and one inedible fin.
The accompanying baked sweet potatoes really must be the ultimate comfort food, their sweetness contrasting well with the savory fish.
Not wanting to over-indulge in the alcoholic side of the meal with a long drive home on the horizon, we shared one of several interesting cocktails before our meal and drank a glass each of wine with the food.
The pre-dinner drink was “Highland Mint,” consisting of whiskey, apple juice, lemon juice, mint and ginger ale (NIS 56.) I don’t especially like the taste of whiskey but this was sufficiently diluted to make a lovely drink.
The wine was our favorite among the whites – Chardonnay from the Eyal winery; very dry, the taste of the grape was very prominent without being overpowering. (NIS 30 a glass).
Before the dessert, our waitress, a student, brought a tiny compressed white towel which expanded when hot water was poured on it. Quite an intriguing interlude before we were faced with the arduous task of eating dessert.
I simply can’t find the right words to describe my crème brulee (NIS 46). Think “heavenly,” “divine,” “other-worldly” and you might get the picture. Every creamy mouthful was sheer delight.
By contrast, the fruit salad on the side seemed tired, no, not tired, worn out. It was impossible to believe they came from the same kitchen.
My companion had a cornet filled with chocolate and cream cheese with blackberry confit on the side (NIS 41) and seemed satisfied with it.
I would have liked a decaffeinated coffee to finish, but was told none was available. How difficult is it to keep a jar of instant de-caff in your larder, I wondered. Anyway, we settled for mint teas, which proved to be a fine ending to an excellent meal.
Ha Ta’asiya 10,
03 5629900
Open: Sun – Thurs. noon till late.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.