Simon Says

Kosher and gourmet aren’t mutually exclusive, says the talented chef of a new kosher bistro in Petah Tikva.

Simon Bistro 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Simon Bistro 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Simon BistroRehov Hashaham 36, Petah Tikva.Sun.-Thur. noon to midnight, Saturday after Shabbat.(03) 744-8888 Kosher lemehadrin
Simon Bistro gourmet restaurant, located in the heart of Petah Tikva’s hi-tech area, has recently been reinvented by chef Udi Asraf.
Becoming the chef of a kosher lemehadrin meat restaurant has equally reinvented Asraf himself, who comes from a background of enriching dishes with butter, milk and cream. Asraf admits that his task at Simon is a challenge, but he deals with it beautifully, enlisting the help of the finest and freshest local ingredients.
The result is a bold and colorful menu based in the Mediterranean tradition with a gourmet touch. The meat is aged in house and the fresh breads and pastas are all made from scratch. The restaurant also offers a selection of local boutique wines.
The prices at Simon Bistro are a pleasant surprise considering the restaurant’s quality. They are very reasonable and allow you to enjoy a fine culinary experience without going bankrupt or even feeling guilty for splurging. Simon even offers business specials during the afternoon that cost from NIS 45 to NIS 100.
Among the items on Simon’s menu, you will find a subtly smoked fish fillet topped with salmon roe, served on a bed of thinly sliced avocado with lemon and olive oil (NIS 46).
This dish, like all of Asraf’s creations is as impressive for its artistic presentation as it is for its creativity. The chef makes simple kosher food into exotic seafood in this case.
An additional recommended starter is the cigars (thin phyllo pastry) stuffed with ground lamb and blanched spinach, served with kalamata olives and pepper coulis (NIS 47).
The main courses are equally good in both their design and flavor. My favorite dish was the duck leg confit served with a plum sauce on a bed of hot burgul (NIS 78). The flavor and succulence of duck is unmatched by other meats and I was thrilled to find it at Simon at such a reasonable price. The subtly sweet plum sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the duck.
Another dish that I’ll definitely be going back for is the classic lamb osso buco. No more need be said. For those who prefer a good steak, Simon serves a surprisingly juicy sirloin, with mushrooms and fried gnocchi which is a Simon signature that can also be ordered separately. The gnocchi is highly recommended and was a huge hit with everyone who tried it.
The true test of a kosher meat restaurant is the desserts, which far too often try to mimic dairy desserts with poor substitute ingredients. Here again, Chef Asraf did not disappoint.
Simon serves a genius dessert consisting of scoops of ice cream made from coconut milk, covered in sweet pecans and topped with a garnish of caramel. Again with this dish, the design is as much a pleasure as the taste.
The bottom line is that Simon Bistro is an excellent restaurant with great prices.
This gourmet eatery is a nobrainer for the residents of Petah Tikva and the immediate surroundings who keep kosher and are starved for a good meat restaurant. The revelation is that Simon is also highly recommended to people who don’t eat kosher because of its reasonable prices for gourmet food. It's even worth the 20- minute ride from Tel Aviv.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.