A kosher restaurant that survives for 7 years in Jerusalem is considered a great success; even more so if it is still packed with people every night. For those of us living in Tel Aviv, this sounds unreasonable. We have to get a closer look. Being a large group, we get to examine many items on HaChatzer's menu.
The mezze platter is a good example of Chef Moti Ohana's special capabilities: tahini paste that includes small pieces of fried zucchini; Swiss chard mixed with minced meat; fried and crispy cauliflower; and interesting paco leaves. But the leader of this platter is, of course, the eggplant cream which is delicate and precise, with date honey on top. All of these work well with the hot Moroccan Frena bread. By the way, Morocco is where Ohana's family comes from; indeed Moroccan flavors are integrated into his classic Cordon Bleu education, together with some Asian touches.
This combination of cuisines is illustrated in the fish starters: crostini triangles with chopped raw sea bream, onions and Thasos olives, over an eggplant cream; summery Ceviche trio with tuna, salmon and sea bream cubes, served with radishes, nectarines and black grapes, with coriander and chili seasoning; and another dish that really reminds me of Jerusalem: fish mixture. The traditional recipe would consist of different types of meat, but here they are replaced by juicy fish in a delicious sauce of onions, chili peppers, cured lemons, Amba and tahini. The Asian representative is a corvine fish in red, sweet & spicy Asian glazing that compliments the delicate fish, while being served with Shimeji mushrooms and green beans.
The cooking method of the meat, on the other hand, is very French, still with the chef's personal interpretation, it handles successfully even the kosher barrier. And so, for instance, the Carpaccio is doing great even without parmesan on top, which is replaced by truffle and sugared pistachios aioli. The Pâté is made of chicken and goose livers in brandy, and served with a very original addition of tomato and roasted fennel confiture. The gnocchi is simply the essence of everything that is good in the world: crispy gnocchi, goose liver, smoked goose liver and sweetbreads, all wrapped in aromatic root cream.
Honestly, I can stop here. But the high point of this meal is still ahead – the meat section. We receive three honorable representatives: an Asado cut that was slow cooked before it turned soft and moist, and put in orange and ginger sauce that counters the deep meat flavors; entrecote steak is Medium done, juicy in reduced demi-glace sauce, with a side of thick crispy fries and brain marrow. And then there is a beef fillet with goose liver, in beef and mushroom stock, and a refreshing side dish of infused snow peas.
So – salads – check. Starters – check. Mains of all kinds and sorts – check. What's left? The ultimate kosher restaurant test – desserts. HaChatzer handles this perfectly, by using fine raw materials and wide combinations. Chocolate lovers will love the baked chocolate fudge with chocolate mousse and pink marshmallow, and vanilla lovers will enjoy the vanilla ice cream that feels so creamy, you cannot tell not a drop of milk was put into it. One lighter dessert is a coconut brûlée, decorated with small strawberry sorbet scoops, meringue kisses and raspberry macaron. And if you just love it all – you can enjoy the petifores platter that includes chocolate treats, almonds cookies, coconut-chocolate delights, home-made marshmallow, macarons and many more.
One last thing before we leave – HaChatzer has business lunch offers which include the mezze platter, home-made bread and selections of the menu.
What more can I say: if you are ever in Jerusalem.