Tel Aviv's great egg-spectations
Egg schnitzel at Shulchan, steak tartare at Kimmel, bourekas with spinach at Bertie, and cornetti carbonara at Pronto. The yummy, yolky offerings on hand in this city take the humble egg to a whole new level.
From the austerity era to the modern day, no matter how many upheavals the Israeli kitchen may undergo, we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for eggs. We like eggs for breakfast or for dinner, served with cheese, meat, salad or bread.
But eggs, that humble farm food, are destined for much more than omelets or shakshuka, the beloved spicy North African dish of eggs and tomatoes. They are a staple in almost every kitchen, and now they are being elevated to gourmet cuisine at restaurants across Tel Aviv.
Forget breakfast. Come lunchtime and supper, discerning diners know that eggs can truly hit the spot. So go ahead, put all of your eggs in one basket. It's time to get to the yolk of the matter and discover the best culinary creations made from eggs that Tel Aviv has to offer.
Trendy: Egg schnitzel at Shulchan
Chef Omer Miller’s urban bistro has cracked the code of success: a central location, a light atmosphere and an unpretentious, affordable menu. Add to that the chef's presence and you get one of the year’s biggest hits in the Tel Aviv restaurant world.
The dish: Egg schnitzel. A soft-boiled egg marries the beloved schnitzel, a breaded chicken dish, resulting in an entire new type of egg in a nest. Here the "nest" is a bed of breaded, fried shallots topped with a Thai lime sauce that is delicately spicy with a light, surprising sweetness. The egg is cooked in such a way that the white is hard while the yolk is relatively soft. Now, just like the schnitzel, the egg is wrapped inside another egg, coated with panko bread crumbs and fried. All that remains is to slice the egg and let the yolk drip onto the shallots below. A bit sharp, a bit lemony, a bit Israeli and a bit Asian all at the same time.
The price: NIS 28.
As long as you’re already here, don’t miss Shulchan’s other big hit – pumpkin "sweets": pasta ravioli filled with pumpkin and ricotta cheese.
Shulchan, 73 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv
Levantine: Bourekas with tulum cheese, spinach and egg yolk at Bertie
While all the restaurants around veer Mediterranean, Bertie is a Levantine place. What does this mean? The menu has Middle Eastern influences, including those from Egypt, Turkey and Syria, rendered in a modern fashion. Here they've taken recipes known to the older generation, such as safiha and sambusak, and given them a new interpretation.
The dish: Bourekas with tulum cheese, Turkish spinach and egg yolk. There is nothing more Levantine than bourekas with an egg, but to call it a bourekas would be an understatement. Let's start with the excellent dough prepared with just the right balance between soft and crunchy, and go on to the Turkish spinach filling and the tulum cheese, which has just the right amount of salt. A raw egg yolk takes the place of the hard-boiled egg. Try letting it run a bit, and just dip the bourekas in it. Rounding out the dish are pickles prepared in-house and finely chopped tomatoes for a classic feel. The bottom line: a dish that plays on the strings of nostalgia even if your grandmother never came from Turkey. In any case, it's a dish that's hard to resist.
The price: NIS 54
If you're already here, and you’re feeling nostalgic, the sambusak will also do the trick. But don’t miss the side dish of stuffed onion that comes with the entrées.
Bertie, 88 King George Street, Tel Aviv
New York style: Rump steak with egg at Wine Bar
When Wine Bar was founded, it had a deep understanding of wines and an impressive selection, with the food playing a secondary role. Over time the tables have turned and the food, not the drink, has become the real reason to cram into the tiny bar.
The dish: rump steak with egg. The idea behind this is very simple – thinly sliced rump steak, cooked medium-rare a la plancha and plainly seasoned with a bit of sea salt and some ground black pepper. A fried egg is laid on top, and there you have the whole story – minimalistic, simple and free of all pretention – proving that when the raw ingredients are good, you don't need anything else.
The price: NIS 64
As long as you’re already here, it's worth starting the meal with one of their classic bruschettas, like the beef tartare, which will set the stage for the main course.
Wine Bar, 36 Nachalat Binyamin Tel Aviv
The surprise: Steak tartare with raw egg at Kimmel
With being caught up in the wave of fashionable restaurants that have swept over the city, we've have forgotten a few that run quietly. Kimmel is one of them. Chef Shaul Ben-Aderet’s restaurant is marking its 20th anniversary in the same location, which is no mean feat. The concept remains the same: a rural French menu conveyed in the design as well as in Ben-Aderet’s dishes.
The dish: steak tartare. Over the past several years, the reputation of this classic dish, which combines raw beef and a raw egg, has suffered a bit. But you'd be a fool to pass up Kimmel’s version: chopped beef sitting in the center of a large plate with the egg yolk on top. Surrounding the dish you'll find red onion, capers, finely-chopped celery, pickles and red cabbage, with excellent mustard and pepper. The chef recommends mixing everything together, but we recommend mixing only what you like. The egg balances the strong taste of the steak, the mustard adds spice, the celery provides freshness and the pickles and capers add a slightly sour flavor. A lovely dish.
The price: NIS 65
As long as you’re already here, this is one of the few places in Tel Aviv where you can get foie gras. If you’re already hankering for French cuisine, you might as well go all the way.
Kimmel, 6 HaShahar, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv
Delicate: Cornetti carbonara at Pronto
Those familiar with Pronto in its previous incarnation on Nachmani Street will find it hard to see the resemblance to the current Pronto, apart from the owner, Rafi Adar. Today the place is headed by chef David Frankel, who turned it from just another Italian restaurant into one of the city's most prominent "chef restaurants." Frankel has departed from the rural Pronto and brought with him a meticulous, high-quality kitchen, with the bank-busting prices to match.
The dish: cornetti carbonara. A delicate dish that also honors the classic Italian carbonara. It's safe to assume the Italians would die for pasta like Frankel's, which brings a personal interpretation to the popular dish. The cornetti (which resemble penne pasta that isn't fully closed) are given a delicate coating of sauce with very little cream in order to preserve the yolk, yet still retains an intense presence of porcini mushrooms. The addition of black pepper and bacon takes it to another direction, one that is even richer and more divine. Those who aren't satisfied with the amount of the yolk in the sauce are invited to use the additional yolk served inside an egg shell on the side of the plate. This isn't just another pasta, this is the pasta.
The price: NIS 72
If you're already here, don't miss the tuna tartare, served with a quail egg.
Pronto, Herzl 4, Tel Aviv
Other egg dishes you shouldn't miss:
Vashti – Tartare, soft boiled egg and truffle (NIS 21). Chef Merav Davidson has created a new, non-conformist take on the classic tartare dish, in the "do it yourself" style. The dish is served on a plate with each component presented separately, with the proper respect accorded to the true queen of tartare – the egg. There are many ways to enjoy this dish: eat the egg first and then the rest, or maybe spoon out the soft yolk and mix it all together? There are many ways to get the perfect bite. In any case, it's recommended to match your favorite flavors, and thanks to a touch of truffle you get a great dish that compliments both the tartare and the egg. The soft-boiled egg is a pleasure that invites diner's playfulness, drawing on the memory of soft-boiled eggs of yore.
The bottom line: intimate and nostalgic
Vashti, 8 Ha’Aliya Hashniya, Jaffa
Sandwich – One of the most popular ways of eating an egg is fried and served up in a sandwich. But this place has taken it to the extreme with their umami sandwich (NIS 36). Umami is of the five basic tastes, salty and savory but pleasant, which for a few moments gives you the feeling that you've reached the ultimate flavor. In its current incarnation, the two chefs take almost everything that tastes of umami and put it into one sandwich. Atop the egg scrambled with milk they've added sea asparagus fried in olive oil and eight types of mushrooms, with everything piled on top of a parmesan spread, with an extra layer of parmesan on top just to add that extra crunch. The sandwich is served on simple sourdough bread so the flavor doesn't have to complete with the bold flavors of the sandwich. "Delicious" doesn't even begin to describe it.
Sandwich, 59 Nachalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv
Kitchen Market – One of the biggest recent hits belongs to Chef Yossi Shitrit, who by virtue of his great talent has managed to take the most patently unsexy raw materials and transform them into an impressive spectacle. The "egg," (NIS 32 in the evening, NIS 27 at lunch) is constructed out of several layers. At the bottom there is a wonderful layer of porcini mushroom cream, and on top of this are champignon, woodland and shimeji mushrooms that have been coated in butter and white wine. And as you can tell from the name, the dish also contains an egg – cooked at 60 degrees C, so that the egg white and yolk remain soft, dripping down through the layers. To finish, a cloud of parmesan and white truffle foam is placed on top. Taste it for yourself – you won't be disappointed.
Kitchen Market, Hangar 12, Tel Aviv Port
Gedera 26 – When was the last time you ate a Swedish dish, aside from while shopping for furniture at Ikea? Gedera 26 is one of the only places in the city where you can find food with a Nordic touch, thanks to Chef Amir Kronberg, the product of a Swedish father and an Iraqi mother. One of the unique dishes here is the Pytt i Panna (NIS 58), the Swedish version of steak and eggs. This dish is traditionally eaten in Sweden on Mondays, as it's made using the weekend's leftover meat, and it is freshened up with an egg placed on top. Kronberg's local version has cubes of beef fillet steak fried with lots of onion and cubes of potato seasoned in salt and pepper – which are traditionally eaten on Sundays. A simple, fun and very satisfying dish for any day of the week.
Gedera 26, 26 Gedera, Tel Aviv
Tapeo – You'll have to delve deep into Tapeo's huge menu to find one of the best egg dishes in the city. The huevo escalfado (NIS 22) is a poached egg wrapped in panko crumbs and fried in hot oil, served alongside mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, with parsley, garlic and a healthy sprinkling of paprika. The result: eggs crispy on the outside and runny on the inside. Spicy, Spanish and happy. A dish that practically begs you to wipe your plate clean with bread.
Tapeo, 16 Ha'arba'a, Tel Aviv
The best dishes outside of Tel Aviv
Rama's Kitchen: In there any way a dish called "the perfect egg" wouldn't make it into the list of the best egg dishes? The answer is no. In Rama's kitchen they insist on using local raw ingredients, with the eggs coming straight from Rama's own hens. As for the dish, it's a faultless egg served on a baked Portobello mushroom with goats' cheese (NIS 28). So why is it so perfect? Because Rama cooks the egg at a temperature of 68 degrees, keeping just the right texture of the egg white and yolk. Perfection. Rama's Kitchen, Nataf (02-5700954)
Piano Piano – This Italian restaurant in Kfar Sava has been open for more than three years and is the closest thing there is to an authentic trattoria in Israel. Here as well, the star of the show is the carbonara (NIS 48), made to a recipe that evokes the original: pasta in a rich beef stock and cream sauce, with a bit of scorched bacon and parmesan. The raw egg yolk is served separately, for those that wish to control their own servings. Nice and simple. Piano Piano, Weizman 207 G Center, Kfar Sava
CafeNeto – The truth is, we were surprised to discover a national café chain serving a dish called "Basra rice" (NIS 36), based on Iraqi cooking. This is a mammoth serving that will satisfy your most massive hunger cravings, made from yellow basmati rice with two fried eggs on top and a little parmesan. Alongside it is served salad, tahini and amba (spicy mango chutney). If you go Iraqi you might as well go the whole way. CafeNeto – branches nationwide
Chez Eugene – Those complaining that there aren't any proper chef restaurants in the south obviously haven't stopped to eat in Mitzpeh Ramon, at Chef Shahar Dabbah's place. Dabbah is a chef who doesn't hesitate to perform feats of molecular gastronomy in the middle of the desert. Our choice is actually a less molecular one –poached egg on fresh polenta with a touch of truffle and some Atlantic sea salt (NIS 43). The only drawback is it's over far too quickly. Chez Eugene, Har Ardon 8, Mitzpeh Ramon.