Plenty of restaurant choice and lots of Russian influence

Israel is not renowned for amazing New Year's Eve parties, which tend to be relatively small.

restaurant Rivlin 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
restaurant Rivlin 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel is not renowned for amazing New Year's Eve parties, which tend to be relatively small-scale affairs at clubs or friends' houses. This is the Jewish state, after all. Still, even in a country with a Hebrew calendar to challenge the Gregorian, December 31 is gradually taking on a more celebratory air, boosted in recent years by the massive influx of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Many restaurants have for years now been offering festive multi-course dinners, complete with a champagne toast at the stroke of midnight, and bookings are increasingly brisk. Cafe Numa in Tel Aviv, for instance, offers of a sumptuous meal for two for NIS 270. It opens with a celery cream soup and a basket of homemade bread, followed by first courses including baked chicory in white wine and Parmesan, tartlet filled with artichoke and yogurt, and carpaccio brasaula (dried beef meat) with coleslaw. The main course choices include a casserole of lamb baked in red wine and pickled onions and a fillet of fish on chard leaves in pumpkin sauce and shrimp tortellini. Dessert features fresh red fruit with cream. Each couple will be welcomed with a bottle of Cava, a Spanish sparkling white wine. Cafe Numa is at Kikar Masaryk 16. Book a table at (03) 522-6322. Last Thursday's Post Weekend magazine featured Orit Arfa's list of other selected restaurants worth considering for a New Year's booking. Among them: * Chef Nir Zook's royal and romantic Cordelia in Jaffa, offering a 10-course tastings menu for NIS 290 per person. Dishes include winter risotto, artichoke soup, truffles gnocchi, Scottish salmon and beef Wellington.; (03) 518-4668 * Chef Meir Adoni, of Channel 10's Battle of the Knives fame, cooking up a nine-dish menu at his Tel Aviv Catit restaurant for a hefty NIS 700. His tasters will feature oyster, pâté, fish and lamb dishes, and, of course, his winning desserts.; (03) 510-7001 * Traklin, in Tel Aviv's Nahalat Binyamin, with a New Year's menu at NIS 265. For starters, choose between a caviar or bruschetta trio; the first course offers beef, chicken liver, grilled meats or shrimp. The main meal gets meaty with a choice of lamb chops, porterhouse steak, sirloin or osso buco. Throw in a Cava cocktail, and you have a full evening ahead. (03) 566-0013 * Pacific at the Crown Plaza Hotel by Tel Aviv's beach promenade. For NIS 200, diners can enjoy end-of-the-year specials and a main course featuring a duet of beef fillet and goose liver - all kosher! * In Hod Hasharon, OM's chef Ayelet Or is kicking off the night with pineapple vodka chasers on the house. Unlike other restaurants, OM dishes will be made to order, and they include artichoke ravioli (NIS 45), corvine fish wrapped in bacon (NIS 98), and crab risotto with baked pumpkin (NIS 79). (09) 740-5853 * The charming Modi'in bistro Titora is offering a four-course meal for NIS 190, one of the more affordable deals on the roster. Choose between carpaccio and red tuna for starters, a seafood taster or mushroom risotto for the first course, and a grouper fillet or duet of goose liver/veal for the entrée. (08) 976-1499 Arfa also mentioned the elegant Arcadia off Jerusalem's Rehov Agrippas (NIS 280 per person; 02-624-9138); Ashdod's beautifully designed Moma, with live jazz and a dance performance, too (08-852-0200), and a Russian-style celebration in Jerusalem with immigrant Leah Levit's relatively new outfit, D.Grey, which serves Russian-Israeli cuisine alongside musical acts. (NIS 250 per person; 02-624-2767). For more New Year's Eve fixed meals go to or where you can find many of the suggested deals in other restaurants. Underlining the Russian dominance, Russian television Channel 9 is organizing a festive event at Tel Aviv's Hangar 11, an evening that will be anchored by the channel's stars and will cost NIS 600 per ticket. The party will be broadcast live from 10:30 p.m. and will include famous Russian artists. According to a Mutagim survey ordered by Channel 9, almost 30% of the country's Russian speakers said they were planning to spend NIS 500 to NIS 1,000 on gifts for the New Year; 31.4% NIS 100 to NIS 400; 4.2% more than NIS 1,000; and 29% had not decided how much they wanted to spend. The most common New Year gifts in the Russian community are sweets (14.3%), perfumes and cosmetics (13.4%), souvenirs (12.4%) and money (5.2%).