Once again a top chef proves that kosher can be just as good as treif with the food losing nothing by conforming to Jewish law. Mor Cohen was appointed executive chef at the Herbert Samuel restaurant in the Herzliya Ritz-Carlton two years ago, and has put the place firmly on the culinary map.
Tables are arranged in private, yet open cubicles, divided by louvered walls, so the diners can have intimacy without feeling isolated and cut off from other restaurant patrons.
In the well-lit restaurant, where wine bottles line the walls, you can look out at the wine-dark sea and the nearby marina, and enjoy the coziness and warmth of the restaurant, in contrast to the often raging elements outside.
So it was on our last visit one stormy winter evening when we ventured out to see what, if anything, was new at the Herbert Samuel.
While waiting for our first course, our waiter brought fresh coriander bread with oil and balsamic dip. It was so good, one could have nibbled on it all evening.
I decided that a hot soup would be just the thing as a starter and ordered carrot soup with cumin and ginger. This came with carrot leaf gremolata and was served with anise seed cantuccini.
I confess that I had to consult a dictionary about several of these terms. Gremolata is an Italian herb sauce usually made from parsley, but in this case, carrot leaves had been used to garnish the thick orange soup. Cantuccini are a thin almond biscuit, better known to us as mandelbrot. It all sounded very exotic, but I found the soup rather bland although very nice and hot (NIS 38).
My companion ordered pâté de foie gras (NIS 108), and all conversation was suspended while he ate the delicious and cholesterol-laden hors d’oeuvre with evident relish.
For a main course, I decided to go for the fish offering, several fillets of grouper a la planche (grilled) served with a gray-white concoction of smoked eggplant and a sticky red vegetable which I could not identify – I just knew it was very good. On inquiring, I discovered it was tomato marmalade. The fish was beautifully done to just the right degree and garnished with my favorite herb, coriander. Altogether it was a top notch main course.
My companion, true to form, chose the lamb chops (NIS 208) served with sage rub, grilled vegetables and lima cream, presumably made from lima beans. As I think I’ve mentioned before, being a surgeon is a great asset when eating lamb chops, enabling the eater to reach the most inaccessible pieces of meat, which was rare but very tender.
A separate dessert menu gave four choices, of which we tried two.
My companion had Caribbean Chocolate Nemesis. When you see the word nemesis in a dessert it’s a sure sign it’s going to be very rich and sinful. It was a chocolate pie but also had plenty of fresh fruit and coconut ice cream. It was not over-sweet and was very refreshing (NIS 48).
I chose something dubbed Har Bracha, consisting of a moist date cake with tehina sorbet – an unusual flavor for ice cream – and a long sesame tuile biscuit. The combination of flavors was a winner and made a sweet and welcome finale.
Not wanting to drink too much, we settled for a glass each of Recanati Wild Carignan Reserve (2016) which was a very robust and convincing red (NIS 69 a glass and NIS 293 a bottle).
The ambience is as warm as the food at Herbert Samuel, and we were thrilled when Chef Mor Cohen came over to say hello and chat to us in his perfect English.
Altogether it was a very pleasant and stimulating evening.
Herbert Samuel Herliya
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hashunit 4, Herzliya.
Sun-Th: 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri: Shabbat dinner catered by hotel from 7 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.