4 posts categorized "Israel, Tel Aviv"

12 July 2010


As with Sima, I'd heard about Lilith, a French influenced restaurant in Tel Aviv, on Daniel Rogov's food forum and had read with interest his review.  He clearly enjoys the place and regularly refers to it as an excellent restaurant that happens to be kosher.

I appreciate some might be a bit perplexed at this. It is fair to assume that in Israel, given the sheer quantity of kosher restaurants, many must be excellent.  Sadly making such an assumption is incorrect.  There are many good kosher restaurants in the bottom and mid-range but the country's cup does not overflow at the top.  I'm not sure why, other than Tel Aviv is at the forefront of the country's dining scene where it's easier to find something porcine than it is to find a kosher restaurant.  I am absuing only a modicum of poetic license.

Which is why I was excited at the prospect of eating at Lilith, I want more than anything to find a really good restaurant that just happens to be kosher.  Unfortunately, my expectations were not met.

The room is lovely (once you walk through the office block to reach it) the service was impeccable. But the food was generally a real let down.

It started well enough with some deliciously smooth babaganoush and a stunning fruity olive oil. But those high notes were short lived.

I started with the chicken's livers.  I was intrigued to see what a supposedly very good kosher restaurant would do with an ingredient at the (stereotypical) heart of Jewish cooking. 

It was quite amazing.  They managed to both overcook and undercook it.  The overcooked lobes were chalky, the undercooked ones were slimy and made me feel rather queasy. The toast the livers were sitting on was burnt.  The accompanying caramelised banana was quite a pleasant touch, but not sufficiently so to rescue the dish.

For main course I could not ignore the special of duck confit. I cannot remember ever having eaten it and assuming the starter was an aberration I figured this was going to be special.  I've heard so many people wax lyrical about this gallic speciality and have read recipes avidly.  I find it hard to believe it's meant to be as uttlery tasteless as the version I tried.

In addition to the confited leg, other bits duck were on the plate, including a lobe of something doing a poor impression of foie gras.  The meat sat on top of two asaparagus spears that were beaten into submission by overly sweet purees of various fruits and pumpkin. The asparagus vs sauce concept underscored some wide-of-the-mark thinking in the kitchen. 

Mrs S had pasta.  It wasn't bad, it was as I recall perfectly fine.  But it was vegetarian, the ingredients were good.  I don't really have a lot else to add.

Dessert of sorbets was similarly dull.  Which is a bit of a disgrace, along the lines of the chicken liver massacre, because with the prohibition of mixing meat and dairy, desserts are the hardest course for kosher meat restaurants.  Sorbets should be their ideal dessert, it should be simple for them to take some beautiful fruit, make a syrup, combine, churn and freeze.  Instead we received some mildly flavoured crushed ice.

And I'm gutted, because I wanted to enjoy this meal and revel in its deliciousness. Yes the room is beautiful, the service was good and the clientele were glamorous.  But none of that makes up for disappointing food. 

Google Maps

Lilith, 4 Weizman, Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel: +972 (03) 6091331

What others think

Daniel Rogov - All of which gives no cause whatsoever for complaint as Lilith remains the very best kosher restaurant in the country and certainly of interest to sophisticated diners even when kashrut is not important. (UPDATE I've amended this reference and link following RotemAR's comment below.)
Frommer's - Lilith combines quality ingredients with a kitchen that's always interesting but not overblown with forced inventiveness.

14 December 2007

HaCarmel market, Tel Aviv

13 December 2007


Where does all the offal go? I ask because I've got into my chicken hearts. I had my second helping yesterday and they're pretty darn good, but I've never seen them on sale in the UK.

They have a more subtle taste than liver and are just the chewy side of being tough. Yesterday's meal was at Avazi. I had been expecting a slightly grubby, hole in the wall. In fact, it is a rather slick mini-chain, with a few branches in Tel Aviv.

We ate at the original in Hatkiva, a slightly run-down neighbourhood, with a larger than usual immigrant population. Which is saying something for a country made up almost entirely of immigrants. The current wave of immigration into Israel is from Africa and former Soviet Union and quite a few from China as well.

Overall the food was good. The numerous salads they brought at the start, as is the norm in these sort of grill restaurants, were an odd combination of traditional Ashkenazi dishes like egg and onion and traditional Middle Eastern dishes like falafel. Once I overcame that shocking dissonance, I was able to delight in the pitta. Fresh out of the taboon, boiling hot, crispy and pitted with sesame seeds it was one of the highlights of the meal. Dipped in their house special of tehina with grilled aubergine, washed down with a cold beer, it reached the zenith of what any pitta-parent could want for its pitta-offspring.

Salads and bread are very nice, but meat was the main order of the day, specifically offal. As I've mentioned the hearts were good, but the star attraction was the foie gras, which was excellent. You can see it nestling in-between the spring chicken skewer (foreground) and the aforementioned chicken hearts.

I can't vouch for the grade of foie gras they use, but it seemed pretty decent quality. I may be a traditionalist at heart, but I reckon it could have done with some sort of marmalade type sauce to cut through the fat. Then again, simply grilled and unadorned, I was able to delight in the meaty goodness.

The staff were especially friendly. As soon as I got out my camera to photograph the plate, they whipped it away and sprinkled some salad on to make it look a bit jazzier. This place is worth a detour, if only to see a bit of Tel Aviv you're unlikely to venture into for any other reason.

Avazi, 54 Etzel Street, Hatikva, Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel: +972 (0)3 687 9918

12 December 2007

Roladin sfuganiyot, or doughnuts to you and me

Poor web connection has resulted in me posting this after the end of Chanukah, but there is still merit in posting it, just for the food-porn aspect.

Sfuganiyot are basically doughnuts, but these ones from Roladin are at best, distant third cousins, several times removed, of the stodge available at Krispy Kreme.

Mine was stuffed with dulce de leche, Silverbrowess' had strawberry jam. Both were very good, oddly, mine was lighter and fluffier, perhaps its was fresher. Also - and this might be sacrilege - I preferred this dulce de leche to some of the over-sweetened stuff we had in South America.