Theoretically, frying up yesterday's bread with eggs and milk should make for a simple peasant's meal, but in reality, French toast can be a rich and decadent meal fit for a queen. But even you, humble reader, can find plenty of cafes in Tel Aviv willing to serve the ooey, gooey, golden confection. Here is just a small sampling of the best.
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French toast at Port Said
If you have ever gone by the Allenby Synagogue in the evening hours, and wondered what the crowds there were all about, you must have missed Port Said, which is tucked just behind. One of the big hits of the recent year, the eatery is a collaboration between Shahar Segal (of the Salon, Miznon and North Abraxas, some of Tel Aviv's hippest bistros), and the rocking, frolicking Teder Bar. That means that behind a famous house of worship, you've got some of Tel Aviv's most prominent worshippers of food and music doing their thing.
The dish: French toast, one of the best in town. White, doughy challah, crust-free, is dipped in crème anglaise, rich with milk and yolks, and fried with olive oil on a plancha. In an edible entant cordial, of sorts, the crème-anglaise dipped bread is served with a delicate crème fraiche, and a peppery, fennel-stoked strawberry marmalade on the side.
The whole thing is dusted with a light powdering of sugar, and the end result is enough to make you want to dug into the synagogue next door to thank the powers on high for such a delight.
Price: 24 NIS
When served: Every day from noon
If you're already here: why not try a rueben toast or the homemade ratatouille? You've never tasted anything like it.
Port Said, Har Sinai 2, Tel Aviv
Top secret: French toast with brie, cranberries and caramelized bananas at Petit
On quiet Yedidia Frankel Street in Tel Aviv's reviving Florentin district, you'll find Petit – but you'll have to know where to look. This little neighborhood café, as cozy as they come, doesn't even have a sign to mark it. But don't let its unassuming presence fool you: There are big things happening in this small spot. The kitchen is served by Boutique Catering, and all breads, pastries and cakes are whipped up on the spot.
The dish: French toast with brie and cranberries. Let your nose guide you here. The fragrance is that seductive sweetness that can only be produced by bananas cooked in caramel. Now use your eyes: The dish is a spin on the classic French toast, with every ingredient having been culled from first class. The cream has been swapped out for mascarpone with a touch of vanilla. The bread is a pillow-soft brioche. And the toppings, in this elite version, are cranberries and creamy brie, which make for a sugar-salty zing with each tantalizing bite.
Price: 38 NIS
When served: All day, every day.
If you're already here: Try the rest of the breakfast. You won't regret it.
Petit, Yedidia Frankel 70, Tel Aviv
Just like old times: French toast brioche at Dixie
When Dixie, Tel Aviv's first-ever 24-hour restaurant, came on to the scene 19 years ago, it forever changed the way Tel Avivians eat. The eatery, which freed all-night partiers from fear of pre-dawn hunger pangs, serves us classic American dishes in a setting that resembles a dimly lit diner.
The dish: French toast brioche. So many eggy brioches have tried, and failed, to top the nearly mystical masterpiece made in Dixie's kitchen. The plate groans under the weight of four healthy thick slices, whose magic is in the mixture. The dish is mild and fragrant with vanilla. The brioche is briefly seared by the grill, giving it a gorgeous scorch on the outside without penetrating the softness and taste within. Cream and fresh fruit are served alongside, but between you and me, this is the only French toast that needs no embellishment. It's beautiful just the way it is.
Price: 39 NIS.
When served: from noon until 11:30 P.M.
If you're already here: And you're not full, a heap of pancakes will also do the trick.
Dixie, Totzeret Haaretz 1-3, Tel Aviv
Long term investment: French toast sandwich at Dallal
Few things can compete with the atmosphere of Dallal on a weekday morning. The charming Neve Tzedek neighborhood is relatively empty, the pace is relaxed, and if you close your eyes, you could convince yourself that you're in a tiny town somewhere in Europe. To keep the daydream going, head on over to Dallal, where piping-hot pastries arrive fresh from the bakery. Chef Golan Gurfinkel has crafted a morning menu that fits almost every taste and budget, and this is one of the only places that allows you to really create your breakfast at whim.
The dish: French toast sandwich – seasonal fruit and ricotta cheese, compote and crème fraiche. Two slices of a sweet Friday challah, with a plum and ricotta trapped inside, and a frying technique that turns it as crispy and decadent as a danish. It is served with a flourish with a side of crème fraiche and not-to-sweet compote, allowing you to linger while you lick your plate and the morning slowly slips away.
Price: 44 NIS
When served: Every day until noon, weekends until 18:00.
If you're already here: At breakfast try the Dallal burger in a brioche toast with truffle cream and a fried egg. You might as well go all the way.
Dallal, Shabazi 10, Tel Aviv
With a twist: Salty French toast at Lulu Patisserie
It's hard to believe, but until a decade ago, the posh Basel area was full of garages and other small industry workshops. It was around this time that Amnon Ben Yaakov decided to quit his job as an accountant and devote himself to food and music, those two divine sensory pleasures that bring you into daily contact with people rather than numbers.
He found an empty garage space and imagine a small, whitewashed patisserie in its place. In its kitchen, he began creating small dishes, pastries and cakes, and as time passed and Basel evolved into one of Tel Aviv's sweetest regions, Lulu Patisserie became a local neighborhood bistro.
The dish: salty French toast. Why there aren't more dishes like this, we don't know. Eggy bread can easily handle the flavor of salty cheese, as this plate, born by accident, proves hand down. Realizing his patisserie couldn't handle the demand of making ordinary Panini toasts, Ben Yaakov decided instead to create French toast from two slices of Kasten bread, with feta cheese, basil and a fried tomato between them. The result? Serendipitous genius. A sandwich that looks ordinary but tastes like anything but, with layers of sweet, salty and crunch all in one. A true pleasure.
Price: 42 NIS
When served: All day.
If you're already here: try Polish Leah's poultry burger, with mayonnaise and horseradish. This might be the next big hit.
Lulu Patisserie, Alkelai 5, Tel Aviv
French toast outside Tel Aviv
Angelina – We said it before and we'll say it again. Angelina could easily be considered the brasserie of Hod Hasharon, beginning with its exemplary service and ending with its detailed dishes. In the breakfast category, you'll be served a relatively large helping of French toast, made of thick challah slices fried in butter and topped with a generous helping of sugar powder. The dish is served with fresh fruit and cream, and if you're really into treating yourself, add a glass of champagne to wash it down. And all for 46 NIS.
Angelina, Habanim 14, Hod Hasharon