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raphael restaurant 311.(Photo by: Courtesy)
Everyman’s Raphael
One of the most popular places in Tel Aviv, this classy establishment offers high quality food for relatively low prices.
Raphael’s can be described like one of its signature drinks: classy, flavorful and stylishly presented.

The restaurant is furnished in dark wood and lit with soft lamps. Its style can be described as “elegant simplicity.” A gorgeous centerpiece displays the drink of the night, two dozen small bottles of Patron tequila sparkling in the dim light of the bar.

The restaurant is mostly frequented by an older crowd, but there were a few younger customers there. You can go in jeans, but wear a collared shirt. It’s a good place for a date, with a spectacular view of the sea at sunset.

The restaurant’s food is ordinary but good-ordinary – it’s food you know, done well, and served with chef Rafi Cohen’s signature flair. Bread comes to you first in a basket, slices of nutty brown and sweet white. For appetizers, we ordered the red tuna sashimi and Moroccan cigars. The cigars were well prepared, the meat deliciously spiced inside a crispy coating, and served with a tasty white sauce. The red tuna sashimi was excellent. Again, it’s nothing you haven’t had before – but it tasted great.

For the entrée I ordered, of course, the steak. The steak option on the menu is entitled ‘The Fat Cow.’ It’s a square cut of meat encrusted with peppercorns and is very flavorful, although it was a little on the rare side. Served alone on a big white plate save for a marrowbone and a delicate roasted onion, the steak included a side dish with some nondescript vegetables and mashed potatoes.

The service was classy. Our waiter was friendly and took care to make us feel at ease. He took his time explaining details of dishes and drinks. And the drinks were fun. First came the classic Patron-tequila margarita. It makes for a smooth, sweet margarita.

Next I picked the lychee martini, flavoured with Absolut vanilla vodka and a dash of saffron. My favourite was the Cosmo Hamara, made of pomegranate juice, vodka, orange peel and ginger.

Desert was a chocolate tartlet, served with ice cream. It was a flourless cake with a pasty texture, of which I wasn’t particularly fond.

For the everyman looking for a classy night out, Raphael is a solid choice. The food is high-end ordinary fare, served with style. Don’t expect adventure, or exotic foods you haven’t tried before. Do expect food you know, and expect it to taste great. And expect to impress your date. The price is steep, but not unreasonable. Expect to spend 200 shekels per person.

Raphael, 87 Hayarkon St. Tel Aviv. (03) 522- 6464. Not Kosher. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
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