Something new,something old

The innovative menu at Rokach 73 is flanked by some classic favorites

Rokach launched a menu experimenting with raw ingredients. (photo credit: courtesy)
Rokach launched a menu experimenting with raw ingredients.
(photo credit: courtesy)
Having been open for seven years, Rokach 73 has established itself as one of Tel Aviv’s finest gourmet restaurants. To maintain high standards and keep customers interested, this summer, chef Eyal Lavi launched a new menu experimenting with a range of raw ingredients.
The restaurant, which specializes in fish and seafood with a fusion of Middle Eastern and French influences, is located in a tennis club. It’s very unassuming from the outside and is reached by walking through the tennis courts.
Once inside, modern clean lines dictate the style of a space that is relatively sparse but inviting.
My dining companion and I sat at a table next to the window overlooking the busy tennis club below. It certainly made a change from the usual busy streets of Tel Aviv.
Our waitress for the evening was polite, attentive and knowledgeable and made sure that we were looked after throughout the meal.
Before we ordered our food, Lavi came to our table to talk a little about the new menu, as well as some of the new techniques he learned from resident pastry chef Moshe Mishaeli, who has been working with the restaurant since it opened. Lavi explained that the menu includes 10 new dishes, as well as popular dishes such as grilled scallops and classic dishes such as octopus risotto, which have remained on the menu.
Lavi wanted to make sure that we sampled as many of the dishes from the new menu as possible, so he ordered a selection for us to share. One of the dishes he was most proud of was the Brûlée chicken liver pâté with fresh figs, crème fraîche, horseradish and caramelized raisins (NIS 52). He was excited for us to try it because he said it involved a high degree of precision, something he had worked very hard on with Mishaeli. The hard work paid off because we were very impressed with the both the presentation and the flavors.
Just as impressive was the grilled scallops served with creamed peas, prosciutto and smoked paprika (NIS 62), which were cooked just they way I like them.
The sea fish ceviche (NIS 54) with tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, chili, labane cheese and pistachios was fresh and tasty, with the chili giving it an extra kick.
We also sampled the Rokach salad (NIS 52), which consisted of fresh figs, beetroot, prosciutto, grilled asparagus, pine nuts and goat cheese. It was perfect for a warm evening, as it was light but was also packed with flavor due its strong and bold ingredients.
For the main course, we started with the Basque-style sea bream fillet with grilled eggplant served with Romesco sauce, scallions and salted almonds (NIS120). Not only was the fish cooked beautifully, but it was also perfectly matched with the smoky flavor of the grilled eggplant, while the almonds added an extra crunch.
While it was not part of the new menu, Lavi insisted that we try one of his classic dishes – octopus risotto in red wine sauce with root vegetables and Parmesan flakes (NIS 98). The texture of the octopus was not to my taste, but the dish was well presented, and the rich sauce was full of flavor.
After so much rich food, I thought dessert would be a bit of a struggle. However, the opposite was true. Both of the desserts we shared were so good, that we finished them off in no time. The Paris-Brest filled with mascarpone cream, raspberries, lavender honey and almonds (NIS 42) was rich and creamy, while the springtime Pavlova with meringue kisses, white chocolate cream, berries and blackberry coulis (NIS 44) was much lighter and was a perfect end to a great meal.
As gourmet bistro restaurants in Tel Aviv go, Rokach 73 is understated and less pretentious than many of its counterparts. Lavi has invested a lot of time in creating a new menu and, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – not to mention the starters and the main dishes.
Launching a new menu is always a risk, but Lavi has been smart by introducing some truly innovative dishes, as well as making sure to keep the classics that many of his loyal customers keep coming back for.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Rokach 73Not kosher 73 Rokach Boulevard, Tel Aviv Open Sunday to Saturday from noon to midnight (03) 744-8844