Sandwiched between Mike’s Place and Buzz Stop, you might think that Armando is just another tourist trap taking advantage of the sea view and nearby hotels. While this medium-sized classic Israeli fish house will surely attract the tourist set, a trap it most certainly isn’t.
Armando, the 3-month-old namesake of restaurateur Armando (Ami) Kadosh, offers fresh fish and an impressive range of salads that ‘open the table’ in traditional Israeli style.
Liz and I sat down on the comfortable front patio one sunny winter afternoon to sample the goods. Even though I was facing the opposite direction (away from the sea), I was nevertheless treated to the stunning beach and sea view in the glass reflection. On the other side of the glass was bistro-style decor, complete with chic black booths and elegant lighting – certainly a step above the average fish house.
Before long our waiter came over to get us started: beet salad, 2 types of eggplant salad, 2 types of cabbage salad, tabouleh, tehina, a large plate of hummus, an entire charred baladi eggplant with a rich tehina, preserved lemons and even a couple surprises like sweet potato salad, cherry tomato salad with basil and plump juicy pomegranate seeds in the tabouleh. So far, so great. This colourful array of salads, set down in stylish square dishes one after another after another, was not only attractive, but fresh and delicious to boot. We also enjoyed our glasses of perfectly chilled smooth and buttery Alexis Lechine Chardonnay, Armando’s house white from France.
Once it became clear to our attentive waiter that we were slowing down on the salads, almost to the point of full stop in fact, he came over to clear our appetizer plates and make room for the main event. He also replaced our cutlery – a small point, I know – but indicative of the fact that Armando is making a concerted effort towards upscale dining – and succeeding nicely.
To describe our main dishes as generous would be a polite understatement. The dishes were all tasty. The fish, not dry in the least, had a nice clean taste and was perfect with a squeeze of the half a lemon that accompanied it. It also went nicely with the butter sauce – but surely that could be said of almost anything.
After making a few last ditch efforts at the fish, Liz and I resigned ourselves to fullness. The sea, the winter sun and sips of chardonnay. Lunch at Armando certainly proved itself to be a taste of the good life. Cheers!
88 Herbert Samuel, Tel Aviv