Incredibly, this is already the fifth installment in four weeks of our series on restaurants that deliver food while the country is still in quasi-lockdown, and no end in sight. It is projected that even when the country starts going back to work, restaurants that are allowed to serve customers on the premises will not be among the first - or even second - wave of businesses permitted to resume normal operations.
The virus spread is being mapped by the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot. Depending on the national exit strategy, it is possible that restaurants in more remote, less-affected areas might be permitted to open sooner. However, it is likely that restaurants in major cities and metropolitan areas will be among the last group of businesses to return to normal, perhaps slightly before entertainment and culture options (concerts, movies, etc.) re-emerge.
(If you and your family are not yet participating in the Weizmann Institute's daily online survey pinpointing the virus, it is easy to do - in English - and important to start now. The website address for the English-language page is coronaisrael.org/en).
To date, we have featured 13 notable restaurants that are delivering (this week makes it 15), covering a variety of cuisines, and remarkably, only one pizzeria. We started with four at a time, then went to three, and now - with this significant “bank” of restaurants easily accessible at all times online - we are starting to review two establishments at a time. I am hopeful that this will enable us to continue this service until the end of the crisis. If travel restrictions ease, we shall endeavor to expand coverage to wider areas of the country.
For a change, the list is not in alphabetical order. Rather, the restaurant entry is listed first, and the specialty shop/delicatessen second.
What is noteworthy about both places is that they have delivery areas that are unusually extensive: Basher offers free delivery to some 200 localities throughout the country - including Jerusalem, of course - while Tandoori’s two fixed locations reach all of Tel Aviv and most of the Sharon, thanks to its extended delivery area, at least at this time.
Chef Reena Pushkarna’s Tandoori restaurants in Tel Aviv and Herzliya have been pleasing loyal customers for more than three decades, and I am pleased to report that their attention to detail extends even to the packaging and design of their delivery orders.
The delivery menu (the same for both branches, even though it is ascribed to Dizengoff) is almost as extensive as the usual one, which is extraordinarily long. There is an English menu on the website. It is not exactly identical to the delivery menu, but it serves as a good guide to the Hebrew-only delivery menu.
Interestingly, this Wolt-designed delivery page has a drop-down menu of additional languages, which yields the following caveat when one clicks on “English”: “This menu is in Hebrew. Would you like to translate this menu to another language? Some of these translations are done by a machine. They include errors and weird stuff - but you'll still get an idea of what's going on.”
The sections of the delivery menu are Lunch (three choices, NIS 49 each); Thali (NIS 54-59); Appetizers (vegetarian, NIS 30-62; non-vegetarian, NIS 22-59); Soups (NIS 24); Tandoori clay oven specialties (NIS 35-170); Regional curries (NIS 80-85); Vegan (NIS 30-59); Vegetarian specialties (NIS 58-75): Rice dishes (including biryanis, NIS 25-80); Breads (NIS 12-30); Salad (NIS 20); and Desserts (NIS 20-30). Most categories contain gluten-free options. Neither pork nor seafood is on the menu.
The first recommended dish is thali, the classic complete Indian meal consisting of several cooked dishes served with rice. Tandoori offers both entirely vegetarian versions and several options with one chicken or meat dish, plus three vegetable sides, and rice pilaf.
Additional recommended dishes from other categories include the onion bhaji appetizer; the zesty lamb curry rogan gosht; Goa chicken - morsels of white chicken in green herbs, baked in a traditional tandoor (clay oven); and the vegetarian special malai kofta in a mellow savory sauce.
Only three desserts are listed. Fans of extremely sweet dishes might enjoy the authentically traditional gulab jamun, balls of mild cheese cooked in a sticky syrup of brown sugar redolent of rosewater and cardamom.
Tandoori. Not kosher.
Maskit 32, Herzliya. Phone: 09-954-6702.
Dizengoff Circle, Tel Aviv. Phone: 03-629-6185.
English menu: tandoori.co.il/menu; Delivery menu: wolt.com/en/isr/tel-aviv/restaurant/tandoori-tel-aviv
Basher Cheesemongers began as a single stall in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, and has grown to encompass 13 branches throughout the country, from Haifa in the North to Ashdod and Beersheba in the South.
The Fromagerie has created a number of signature platters that can be delivered to your home, just about anywhere in Israel. Deliveries are free to 200 localities, elsewhere they may incur a small charge. These platters also make excellent gifts.
The Basher website is in Hebrew and Russian, while the delivery page is in Hebrew only. While there is no English page, the page that describes the chain’s cheeses includes their names in Latin letters (English or French).
The cheese platters range in price from NIS 180 to NIS 650, and three of the most popular are featured on a user-friendly shopping page where you can click on a photo and add your selection to a cart. Of course, you can also order by phone by calling the branch nearest you.
The featured platters start with an assortment of six cheeses (for a total of 650 grams), graduate to an assortment of 12 cheeses (1.1 kilograms) and culminate in a platter boasting 1.5 kilograms of 17 different cheeses. In addition to hard cheeses, semi-soft cheeses and blue cheeses, each platter includes a smorgasbord of various delicacies - relishes and dips - plus nuts and seasonal fruit.
For example, the platter I sampled was the European Classic (NIS 250), which consists of four hard cheeses, one semi-soft cheese, one blue cheese and seven small containers of deli treats: Kalamata olives, Siciilan olives, marinated artichoke, and small, mild red peppers stuffed with cream cheese, pesto, onion marmalade and truffle butter. Finally, there was a smattering of salted peanuts and a decorative cluster of fresh grapes.
Basher Fromagerie. Kosher and not kosher.
Thirteen branches nationwide (three in Tel Aviv and three in Jerusalem). Delivery web page: shop.basher.co.il.
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.