I would depict the 1960s Israeli Kibutz dining halls as huge rooms lined with long Formica tables, where blue uniform wearing workers would eat their meals. The Kibutz dining hall menu (or lack thereof) usually consisted of uneatable fish fillet or a choice of yesterday's leftovers.
Although Chef Omer Miller's 2011 Dining Hall is decorated with simple wooden tables covered in paper maps, and although the restaurant's service lacks any trace of unnecessary manners, this is not your typical Kibutz dining hall at all. Not only do Miller's guests would probably choose and not be forced to visit the restaurant, they actually enjoy the good food and atmosphere, and rightfully so.
Our Dining Hall experience starts with the alcohol menu, which I'm pretty sure our founding fathers would never have imagined. Once we realize that it is based on local wineries and breweries, we open with a mildly sweet frozen tropic drink made of rum, pineapple and coconut. Next to follow are a full bodied Galma Cabarnet Sauvignon and a Pilsner beer by Pavo brewery – bright, light and smooth.
The Dining Hall's food menu is based on local produce too, and thus changes according to seasonal supply. Still, some dishes remain a must all year long, such as the house bread which is made of whole wheat flour and rye and coated by sunflower and pumpkin grains. Along come 2 starters that reflect the Dining Room's approach – not an attempt to create culinary greatness but to make greatness of lovable food. Take the chopped liver dish for instance. It is simple, compressed and well made; it includes an abundance of browned onions, and decorated with a home pickled cucumber. So is the eggplant cream that has a strong roasting scent and a twist of Labane cheese taste; a splash of date honey gives it a touch of sweetness.
Our next 2 dishes are a little more sophisticated: one is a vegetarian dish of stuffed vine leaves in thick goat yogurt, with pomegranate sauce and grains that give it a seasonal touch. The other is a corvine fish Siniya – an interesting interpretation of the classic Siniya dish where instead of lamb meat, a corvine fish fillet is covered in warm tehini and decorated with green leaves, date-cherry tomatoes, radishes, black olives and red onions. This combination creates a light and fun dish with a distinct Mediterranean character.
After such a great opening, we decide one main course and one dessert should be enough. We choose the spring chicken, which is probably the most common Israeli dish, only this version is special. On an iron plate lays a brown and juicy spring chicken that was cut after being grilled in sweet roasting sauce of spiced honey, and then served on a bed of burnt potatoes and roasted onions. Our dessert is a chocolate symphony – a cake based on 70% rich chocolate and served with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce - delicious serve that manages to avoid the usual trap of over sweetness while finishing this dinner perfectly.