Where quality and quantity meet

I googled Kosher Herzliya, and among the options was Etnika on Shenkar Street off Abba Eban Boulevard, which has a considerable number of kosher and non-kosher eateries.

Etnika (photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
(photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
A colleague celebrates the birthdays of relatives and friends by taking them to dinner.
Reciprocity is therefore in order. Several months had passed since his birthday, and plans to treat him to dinner had not worked out. But then one Thursday night when we both happened to be invited to an early evening reception in Herzliya, it looked as if his birthday dinner was finally going to materialize.
I googled Kosher Herzliya, and among the options was Etnika on Shenkar Street off Abba Eban Boulevard, which has a considerable number of kosher and non-kosher eateries. Etnika had very favorable reviews from diners, so we opted for that.
There were a number of diners sitting on the outdoor patio when we arrived, but as neither of us is partial to the humidity of Herzliya, we decided to go inside.
Just as we were being led to our table, two waiters carrying a huge round tray laden with appetizers, passed us en route to the patio. This feast we discovered was listed on the menu as the Etnika Experience, and priced at NIS 159.
When I suggested to my companion that we share such an experience, he wisely remarked that if we did, we would have no room for a main course.
We weren’t really all that hungry, so we decided to skip the appetizers.
We had hardly perused the list of main courses, when Amit, the friendly, efficient and charismatic waiter showed up and recommended the Special Mixed Grill, the only item on the menu for which no price was listed.
It turned to be NIS 350, but it included lamb chops, which had me as a native Australian salivating simply at the mention. My companion, on hearing the price, asked if I was sure that the mixed grill was what I wanted to order. But lamb chops as a single main course were priced at NIS 190, so NIS 350 for a mixed grill that included lamb chops did not seem all that expensive in comparison.
Amit brought a large round food warmer with a high-rise flame to the table, and while we were waiting, another waiter showed up with a sumptuous plate of home-made hummus with warm chickpeas and olive oil with a sprinkling of paprika, plus a basket of delicious warm house bread. The hummus was smooth and tasty, and we had to stop ourselves from consuming it all, knowing that there was a special treat coming. It was implied that the hummus was on the house, but when the bill came, it was NIS 415 including two medium-sized bottles of soft drink and a large bottle of water. As the hummus was priced at NIS 32, it would account for the total amount on the bill.
Amit arrived with a pan of meats for the four people at the next table. My companion asked if they had ordered the same as we had, and the reply was affirmative.
A MINUTE LATER, our own pan arrived replete with large lamb chops, several pieces of grilled chicken which had been previously marinated, tenderloin steaks, very generous cuts of soft, succulent entrecote steaks and skewer of mixed grilled vegetables.
My companion had asked that the meat be cooked medium-rare. I usually prefer well-done, but it was his night, so I went along with his choice, and was pleasantly surprised by how palate pleasing it was. We were given a choice of one side dish each. My companion chose green beans which were fresh and flavorsome though very slightly cooked. I went for the rice with cranberries and carrots, which was quite yummy.
Meanwhile, the people at the next table had a birthday, and three waiters came, with a cake and sparklers, and sang “Happy Birthday.” The people at that table wanted to have dessert, but there was no way they would have room for it if they finished what was in the pan. So they asked for a doggie bag.
At another nearby table surrounded by many more people, there was also a birthday celebration, and this time one of the waiters banged a round metal tray in time to the singing of “Happy Birthday.”
Both the menu and the ambience at Etnika are largely Moroccan, but not too obviously. The premises, though huge by regular restaurant standards, nonetheless have a certain coziness. There’s a bar for solo diners, or for twosomes who don’t want to sit at a table. The table arrangements are made up for two, four and more, so that anyone coming in off the street without a reservation can find something to suit them.
Needless to say, we were unable to finish the contents of the pan, and there was still a lot of meat left, so we asked for a doggie bag as well. I have to admit that I wasn’t enamored with the tenderloin, but the entrecote was something to die for and the chicken was superb.
Amit tried to persuade us to order dessert but we were so sated, that we were unable to consume another bite of anything. However, the second birthday group was eating dessert, and my companion asked if he could photograph it.
Not only did they agree, but they offered to share it.
What he photographed was the coconut sushi which comprises vanilla cream wrapped in chocolate truffles and shredded toasted coconut, which at NIS 49 is the most expensive of the desserts.
If I had the room, I would have liked to taste the parve (without dairy or meat) cheese cake made from tofu and combined with strawberry confiture and a crumble base. Many years ago, on my first visit to New York, I was introduced to parve, velvety textured cheese cake in a kosher restaurant in Manhattan. It was better than the real thing.
On the way out of the restaurant, we were each invited to take a gift package from the round mega-tray at the entrance. In it were two candles and a mini-challah, so that guests who might be tourists and light candles for Shabbat would not have to go looking for them.
We didn’t keep the doggie bag. We went back to Jerusalem via Ra’anana where my companion’s sister and her family live, and figuring that they would enjoy the meal as much as we did, we gave it to them.
Arieh Shenkar St. 7, Herzliya
Ph: 09-951-1177, online: etnika.co.il
Sun-Thur: 12 noon-11 p.m.
Open Fridays for events only