You had me at brisket

The main attraction of the restaurant is the large smoker imported from the US. Chef Assi Haim enjoys showing the smoker and the different meats cooking inside.

Brisket (photo credit: RON BORKIN)
(photo credit: RON BORKIN)
When I think of places to go on a day off, a gas station in Hadera would hardly makes the list. But after a visit to Brisket, I may have to rethink my future travel plans.
Brisket is a smokehouse restaurant offering a full selection of smoked meat platters and sandwiches. Everything we tasted was excellent, and owners Ohad and Einat Leizer insisted we taste almost everything on the menu. Prices are very reasonable for this quality of food and there is a menu in English.
The décor is simple but attractive. One wall is lined with pecan wood for the meat smoker (more on that later). The tables are simple wood with no tablecloths, and silverware and napkins are in a small pail on the table. The view is of the Sonol gas station, but once you start eating you won’t care.
My dining companion (my 22-year-old carnivore son) asked about the beers on tap. There is a wide selection of both Israeli and imported beers and he ordered an Alexander wheat beer (NIS 27/32). It came with a small saucer of tangy, smoky beef jerky. I had a small glass of a German beer called Keller that was excellent. For the drinkers among you, there is a Sunday night special that starts at 6 p.m. of buy one beer, get one free.
Next, Einat brought us the smoked meat soup with root vegetables. It comes in two sizes, small (NIS 25), and large (NIS 33). The small was plenty, with a nice serving of shredded smoked beef in a tomato broth with carrots, potatoes and celery.
Next was a portion of chicken wings glazed with a chipotle barbecue sauce (NIS 25). They were so delicious, I didn’t even bother with the horseradish-garlic dip offered alongside. All sauces and dips, as well as rubs for the meat, are made in-house.
The main attraction of the restaurant is the large smoker imported from the US. Chef Assi Haim enjoys showing the smoker and the different meats cooking inside. He raises and lowers the shelves with a foot pedal. Inside were huge hunks of asado, brisket and ribs. The kitchen, by the way, is spotless.
Einat brought out the Double Meat Platter (NIS 166) which came on a slab of wood with homemade coleslaw and homemade pickles. Each meat had a different dry rub and was smoked for 10-20 hours on a high heat using pecan wood.
Each part of the platter was simply delicious. I usually find asado too fatty, but this had a dark crust from the spice rub and melted in my mouth. The brisket was soft and yummy. The chorizo sausage – which I hesitated to taste because chorizo is often too spicy for me – was perfect. The chicken was amazing – soft and juicy with a crispy skin.
The platter can be customized so if there is one type of meat that you don’t like, you can easily substitute something else. A single platter is NIS 88. Platters come with two side dishes from the three that are offered: thin-cut chips served in a small basket; baked potato and sweet potato with olive oil and herbs; and green salad.
We also tried a sandwich of smoked lamb neck meat (NIS 63), with homemade tehina, spicy tomato salsa and herbs. It is served on homemade Moroccan Frena bread. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the meat platter.
Many of the guests ordered sandwiches, served either with 170 grams of meat (NIS 55-63) or 270 grams (NIS 75-88). Sandwiches include smoked beef ribs, where the meat is taken off the bone and shredded, asado and brisket.
Even vegetarians can eat well at Brisket. There is a vegetarian sandwich (NIS 45) with pieces of tofu and smoked portobello mushrooms glazed with a barbecue sauce, chipotle aioli, and vegetables. Chef Assi even covers one of the shelves with aluminum foil so the tofu and mushrooms will not touch meat. The sandwich is vegan, except for the aioli, so Brisket can accommodate vegans as well.
When it came time for dessert, I was tempted to decline. I was quite full already, and pareve desserts are rarely worth the calories.
“Please just bring us one dessert to share,” I asked Einat. She nodded, but proceeded to ignore my request.
First up were churros, finger-length fried tubes of dough with cinnamon and sugar. They can be dipped in a toffee sauce that was so good I couldn’t believe it was non-dairy, and served with pareve vanilla ice cream. There was also a delicious apple crumble, and a creation of Ohad’s – pancakes stuffed with peanut butter and banana. I loved the flavor, although I thought there was too much dough in relation to the filling.
I am already thinking of excuses to get to Hadera to try Brisket again.
Sonol Gas Station, Route 4, Hadera
Kashrut: Rabbanut Hadera
Sun: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Thu: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Tel: 04-375-0015
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.