It might have been the alcohol, the meze, the happy Greek music or the shiny happy people. This way or the other, I left Yassou Tel Aviv feeling a lot lighter than I did when I first entered the place; it seems that the combination of tavern and gourmet food can work well for me.
Under the "atmosphere" category I would include an almost secret entrance from the Prima Hotel direction, beautiful sea view, the above mentioned Greek soundtrack and the huge bar that kept making sure we were attended to. The person responsible for the gourmet section is Chef Aviv Moshe, known from Messa restaurant, who has managed to take many Mediterranean dishes and give them his own touch. This combination is consciously aimed at the 30+ crowd that might be looking for this kind of sophistication and uniqueness.
So we mentioned the alcohol. And we did say Mediterranean. It would be best to start with a cocktail based on Anise, the component responsible for the Raki, Ouzo and Arak special taste. With it we were served with hot Moroccan bread, olive tapenade and tomato salsa. We bit on these while discussing the important issue of our food order with waiter Yakov. Meals at Yassou Tel Aviv are served free-style, no formal division of first and main courses, which suits us. Starters here are mainly composed of spicy appetizers, and we chose the 2 most promising. The first one is breaded and fried Caciocavallo cheese fingers, served on a bed of spinach in sour dressing, which balances the strong cheese taste. Our second starter is a rare combination of smoked tuna fish with an almost meaty taste, feta cheese by Hameiri Dairy and tempura fried cornichons. The variety of flavors and textures managed to surprise us with every bite. Our cocktail was long ago finished, and we got a Samuel Adams beer instead –its full body and light sweetness went well with our starters.
Yassou Tel Aviv is a collaboration of a group of partygoers and Chef Aviv Moshe, and it is clear that as the night lingers, the atmosphere becomes more vibrant, tavern-style. At this point we took a brave decision and passed on main courses with appealing names such as Butcher's Kebab or Souvlaki Sirloin, and instead chose some more representatives of the light-but-different family. Yakov suggested the Greek salad and a pan of tomatoes. These dishes sound simple enough, but in fact they illustrate the way in which great produce upgrades anything. Small and concise cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, Chushka juicy and sweet peppers, rocket leaves and Hameiri's superb feta cheese comprised a very special Greek salad. The tomato pan is a duplication of the one served in Messa, which has immediately become the audience's favorite. These are just sun tomatoes, still when you cook together 3 different kinds of them, and top them with melting cheese slices, you get a surprisingly rich dish.
Desserts work on the same upgrading principle. Did you say Malabi? Because here it is covered by sweet and sour coating of Amarena cherries and Chinese pecan chips - as far away as you can go from the classic dessert, and boy, was it good. How about mousse? Here it is served in a glass of almond Streusel, white chocolate frost and strawberry coolie, topped by fresh fig portions that add color and taste. Yassou!
Yassou Tel Aviv is open every night, including weekends, from 19:00 and until the last client leaves. During the weekends, the restaurant opens at 13:00.
Photos: Shay Ohayon