The Art of the Meal

Pastel is a true palate pleaser

Pastel restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Pastel restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
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 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.
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 and socializing with friends after dinner.
When we were seated at our table, menus were given out, glasses of water were filled, and we started going through the options in an attempt to narrow down our choices. The extensive menu features fish, seafood, meat and pasta dishes. Chef Hilel Tavakuli’s food is creative, with fresh, crisp flavors and magnificent presentation that makes each dish as much a delight to the eye as to the palate.
We began our culinary journey with the sauteed kale salad. Served in a Niscoise style, the salad featured anchovies, purple potato, sweet onion and soft-boiled eggs. I am a fan of kale salads, so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed this one. The kale was fresh and crunchy, and the anchovy definitely added some texture and saltiness. I found myself searching frantically for more of those delicious morsels. The ingredients were fresh and complemented each other like a beautiful slow dance in your mouth.
This was followed by the seared scallops (NIS 80). The scallops were grilled perfectly without a hint of rubberiness, just perfect, delicate break-with-your-fork butteriness. They were placed on a green garlic risotto – a perfect pairing, might I add. My only complaint would be that it came with three scallops, which seemed a bit awkward given that most people come to this type of restaurant in pairs, hoping to share with their companion.
A friend once told me that the way she knows she has eaten good sushi is if the meal leaves her with a clean, healthy feeling. That was exactly the way I felt about Pastel’s tuna sashimi (NIS 60). This dish, consisting of curry vinaigrette, chili, Granny Smith apple, cucumber and cashews, was appealing in color and presentation. I’m not sure where they source their fish from, but the quality was exceptional. The tuna was marvelously tender and hardly required chewing. Each ingredient spoke for itself, enhanced by a light sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
With deft and friendly service, our first course was cleared and main course followed shortly. We were presented with the burger (without a bun) and foie gras (NIS 110), accompanied by potato puree, roasted carrots and a sweet red wine sauce. I have never had foie gras on a burger. It was such a wonderful and surprising addition, that I had to stop myself from polishing off the burger in a couple of chomps. The foie gras was as soft as you’d imagine, leaving the patty’s char as the crunchiest element of the burger. This was comfort food at its best.
This was followed by the pappardelle pasta with lamb ragout (NIS 92). The pasta, with that spectacular fresh consistency, was a divine match for the tangy red and meaty ragout. The lamb, generously strewn throughout, was melt-in-your- mouth succulent. This dish was prepared with some serious amore. Perfection.
Last we were served the beef fillet (NIS 146) in an old-fashioned creme and brandy sauce. It was tender and juicy, grilled to perfection, and seasoned just enough to amplify the flavors of the meat. The perfect supplements, which came in very generous portions, included bone marrow, fresh spinach and mashed potatoes, which were buttery and rich in taste.
We ordered hot drinks and took a breather. Then came dessert. We opted for the heavenly decadent Ferrero Rocher chocolate, as well as the mini cheesecakes. Both were relatively small but rich enough that a few bites sufficed to satisfy our sweet tooth.
Certainly, it’s with good reason that Pastel is considered one of the top restaurants in the city. Taste, atmosphere, service and value are all combined under one roof. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Pastel Not kosher Tel Aviv Museum of Art 27 Shaul Hamelech, Tel Aviv Tel: 053-710-3046 Open every day from noon until midnight