A radiant December evening found us strolling around what I consider to be the more charming parts of the city, and thanks to warm lighting illuminating through its wall-sized windows, stopping in gazing admiration of Yavne Montefiore's impressive interior.
For a Saturday at 9pm, the large restaurant was pleasantly pumping with diners–several couples decked the long rectangular bar, while a few large groups occupied the table-laden floor.
My partner and I headed straight for the bar and sat at one of its four corners for a wide view on the entire room and the large round lightbulb fixtures that hung from its high ceilings. Yavne Montefiore's design melds industrial chic with clean sophistication, emanating a sense of classic style with surprising coziness. An engagement here can easily sway between formal and casual, so long as you can afford it.
Menu with a mentor
Two shots of aperitif Ouzo later, my companion and I were ready for menu inspection, and our waiter's help. With a long wine list (from which we opted for two glasses of feisty Italian red at 49 NIS each) and a sensuous-sounding selection of appetizers and mains to choose from, you're likely to seek some descriptions of the less obvious dishes, like ""Herbert Samuel's "Tomato Salad"" and ""Shish Barak" Lamb filled dumplings in Druze Spices"".
We did so, and wound up ordering the latter two mentioned dishes and the Tuna Tartar as starters, aside from the large bowl of market olives and hot house bread that were already served to us. The famous Tomato Salad, also found at Roshfeld's first, and much appraised Herbert Samuel restaurant, was a divine mix of grilled, roasted and fresh tomatoes, tossed with vinaigrette, lots of basil and green onion, and sprinkled with chunks of sheep's Feta (47 NIS). The Shish Barak, which comes in two serving sizes, was an original take on the Latin American Empanada–crisp yet chewy envelope whose tender, hearty interior melts in your mouth with every finely-spiced bite (32 NIS for the small size). Our Yellowtail tartar was simple yet astonishing, genially dressed in olive oil, soy sauce and spicy herb sprinklings, soft in texture and hands-down delicious (68 NIS).
Bite, breather, bite
Yavne Montefiore has a convenient heated outdoor side terrace which you can visit (or sit on!) if a breather or a digestive aid in the form of a cigarette is needed. Post-break, we went on and confronted our mains.
Dishes at YM aren't overly large (especially when you order the smaller renditions of them, which I'm glad we did!)–and I appreciate that–but they are definitely filling. The Gnocchi, Porcini Butter, Chestnuts & Parmigiano Reggiano is a must-try here, succulent and exciting with its uplifting yet deep flavours. Every tube-resembling gnocchi caresses the palate, perfectly combining roasted chestnut, green peas and earthy-sweet sauce in every mouthful (45 NIS for the small, 82 the large).
To give a more straightforward dish a shot, we ordered the Mediterranean Seabass, Tomato, Hot Chillies and Sage with side salad (118 NIS), which proved bewitchingly not regular. Herb-coated and roasted to excellence, I can confidently say it's the best Denis I've had outside my own kitchen!
I myself could no longer think of food ingestion, but from experience know Israeli culture doesn't stand for "no" when it comes to sweets...so of course we said "yes" when handed two goblets of soft-serve ice cream. The pale brown dairy's flavour was hard to distinguish, and rather reminded me of a kid's dessert at a fast-food joint. But then again, since complimented with coffee liquid and chocolate fudge sauce, I have to admit it did the trick, and our bowls licked clean.
Yavne Montefiore is a fine establishment to spend a meal's time at, come lunch or dinner. Its easy-going and respectable ambiance is ever-inviting and the quality of anything that may arouse you appetite here is sure to satisfy.
31 Montefiore, Tel Aviv
Open Sunday - Thursday from 12:00 - 24:00
Friday from 9:00 - 24:00
Saturday from 9:30 - 24:00