At the foot of the skyscraper: Canaan steakhouse

Canaan is a steakhouse frequented by large families and groups

The food of Canaan steakhouse (photo credit: Courtesy)
The food of Canaan steakhouse
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Goshen and Canaan are prominent place names in Jewish history to anyone familiar with the biblical accounts in Genesis and Exodus. Currently, they also happen to be the names of two kosher steakhouses in downtown Tel Aviv, under the same ownership and management.
Canaan, situated in the shadow of Shalom Tower on the edge of Neveh Tzedek, is the newer of the two. Sleek and modern, it comprises three seating areas: the main dining room and bar, an outer section that is al fresco in the summer and enclosed in the winter, and a separate room for private functions.
In all three sections, most of the tables are suitable for large families and groups. The few smaller tables are in the outer section; but if the larger tables should fill up, decibel levels will rise accordingly, making quiet conversation rather difficult. And of course, as the place gets more crowded, service slows down commensurately.
Canaan offers no specialty cocktails, but will mix some of the classics, if they have the liquor. There is a reasonable selection of Israeli wines, although very limited choices are available by the glass.
The bilingual food menu is very straightforward, consisting simply of one page of starters (NIS 48-78) and another of main courses (NIS 74-250, plus premium cuts sold by weight). The only vegetarian dishes listed are two pastas – one as a starter and one as a main course – and a Caesar salad. A tasting menu is also offered (NIS 210 per person).
The house ciabatta (NIS 24) arrives warm, served with tiny saucers of olive oil, garlic confit and mild salsa. Both the bread and accompaniments were unremarkable.
Our first appetizer was foie gras on bruschetta, with coconut toffee and strawberry coulis. The bruschetta was soggy, the strawberry element merely a lone stewed berry, and the coconut flavor non-existent – but these are mere quibbles. The unusual pairing of toffee with the goose liver was a winning combination, with the sweetness of the toffee cutting the richness of the foie gras.
The manager recommended our second starter: liver pâté in a phyllo pastry shell, served on halva cream sweetened with silan and topped with a poached egg. There is a lot going on in this dish, but somehow it all added up to less than the sum of its parts.
I was very eager to taste our first choice of main course, since it is something I had never encountered elsewhere in Israel: veal prime rib from Nebraska. Alas, it was too good to be true: the manager explained it was a mistake in the English menu – and indeed, the Hebrew menu lists something different: prime rib of the ordinary variety, meaning of beef. (Actually, this was just one of many unfortunate missteps in the English version of the menu.)
It would have been some consolation to have the beef prime rib at least – except even that was unavailable on the evening of our visit. There was one other entrée specified as coming from Nebraska: the sirloin (inexplicably called “sinta” on the English menu, even though that word exists only in Hebrew), so this became our default choice.
My companion, meanwhile, opted for the filet tournedos – filet mignon topped with foie gras. For the most part, the sirloin steak – especially the middle section – was quite good: succulent and tasty. Similarly, two of the three medallions of beef filet, while thinner than traditional cuts of this kind, were perfectly satisfactory.
At the same time, the less said about the side dishes – the overcooked green beans, the undercooked mushrooms, and the potato wedges whose texture hinted that they had been cooked long before and reheated – the better.
The desserts (NIS 38-42) signaled a slight turn for the better. Once again, our first choice from the menu was non-existent in reality, so the waiter suggested its replacement, also not yet on the menu: cremino. This interesting creation of a cream pudding covered in white chocolate ganache and studded with bits of salted pretzel was a pleasant confection juxtaposing sweet and salty.
We also tasted the pecan pie, a quite acceptable version of the American classic. Regrettably, the accompanying scoop of vanilla ice cream was of the inferior pareve variety.
Canaan Steakhouse
Ahad Ha’Am St 14, Tel Aviv. Ph: 03-746-0460
Sun-Thu: noon-midnight
Sat: After Shabbat-midnight
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.