Tucked away in one of the Neve Tzedik’s classic turn-of-the-century houses, Dallal sprawls over a number of beautiful rooms and spaces surrounding a central stone courtyard. Lightly modernized and refurbished in a style honoring the original look of the home and neighborhood, an L-shaped bar links the largest of the high ceilinged rooms with the courtyard.
With these posh, stylish looks, and Chef Golan Gurfinkel at the helm in the kitchen putting his evident talent to great use, Dallal quickly took its place as one of the “it” spots amongst Tel Aviv’s chic and moneyed.
Chef Gurfinkel’s varied and exciting menus change seasonally. With Tel Aviv’s balmy autumn, there is no better time to enjoy the summer menu that a warm September night. Despite the impressive selection of more than fifteen white and sparkling wines available by the glass, Orit and I, meeting up for a final meal together before my move to Canada and its decidedly less balmy autumn, decided to enjoy red with our meal. Our waiter recommended to each of us a glass to suit our tastes to start our meal off on the right foot.
The first food to arrive was the house focaccia, a fluffy bite of heaven topped with crunchy sea salt, served with whipped, richly smoky creamed eggplant dip. Then the grilled in-shell jumbo shrimp arrived, artfully displayed with crisp green beans, sea salt, onion and mint, all dressed in a caramelized shallot cream sauce. The dish to follow was worth its weight in gold. The mushroom festival, assorted high-end mushrooms bathing in a porcini cream sauce, is a revelation in deep flavor, the type of dish to come back for again and again. We also enjoyed the corvina fish ceviche, fresh and lemony with just the right amount of red chili interspersed with the fresh fish, cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes.
Despite our indulgent range of starters, Orit and I could not leave without sampling at least a couple of the season’s entrees. The gnocchi is a light vegetarian dish with s succulent texture, both flavorful and satisfying in a sweet cherry tomato sauce with crisp zucchini, rich black olives and an abundance of fresh herbs. Last, but certainly not least, the meal’s crowning glory arrives: jumbo scallops served with okra atop a black bean cream sauce. Simply divine!
To top off our meal we sampled a couple of their new desserts. Orit loved the deconstructed knafeh (a whole story unto itself involving goat cheese foam and various Middle Eastern favorites like honey, rose water and yogurt). I tend to prefer my desserts a little more traditional, and, I am not ashamed to admit, a little more European. My top choice was the mixed berry sorbet with fresh raspberries, blueberries, mascarpone cream and crisp mini-meringues, providing a bit of solid among all the soft “berry-liciousness” of my treat.
Utterly satisfied, Orit and I headed off to unlock our bicycles and say goodbye. It was a grand meal, we agreed, a fitting Tel Aviv farewell, and a summer meal I will remember fondly over the long, cold winter to come