Dining Out / Seven Years of Excellence

Shaul Evron is now celebrating the seventh anniversary of the opening of his Yo'ezer Wine Bar and Evron is showing no sign whatsoever of becoming tired.

Shaul Evron is now celebrating the seventh anniversary of the opening of his Yo'ezer Wine Bar and Evron is showing no sign whatsoever of becoming tired. In fact, he seems to be having a marvelous time and by periodically updating his already excellent wine list and adding often exciting new dishes to his menu, he continues to give us good reasons to realize that there is no need to regret all of the good things we have said about this place over the years.

This is the wine bar par excellence, set in an old Jaffa building, with thick stone walls, arched ceilings and niches and crannies every place the eye turns. Heavy tables are set here and there. The ambience and service are friendly and efficient and here one finds the kinds of dishes that typify the best of French country-style cuisine.

As in the best wine bars of France, one comes to sample a broad selection of wines by the glass and to accompany those with a light snack, or to settle into truly serious eating and drinking. My most recent visit was occasioned by my desire to sample a wide variety of the dishes that have made this place such a well-loved institution. The simple truth of the matter is that I could write a litany of praise for many of the dishes I sampled here over the years and which are now appearing on the menu.

The "Seven-Hour Lamb Shoulder" is so soft and gentle that it falls apart at the mere touch of a fork and then melts comfortably in the mouth, flooding the palate with flavor and texture sensations that make one want to call out "eureka"; the prime ribs on the bone are so fatty and full of flavor that eating them seems almost an orgiastic activity; and Evron's whole fresh truffle enclosed in a puff pastry case is so rich that eating it must be one of the most pleasant of sins known to humankind.

As to other dishes, let it be said that the boeuf bourguignonne itself is perfect and its red wine sauce so thick and rich that there should be a law against not finishing it off with the excellent bread that is served; the corned beef remains as extraordinarily good as any you will find this side of New York City's Carnegie Deli; and his veal and brain meatballs served on potato puree, although perhaps not to everyone's taste, are so beautifully seasoned that they make you sigh for joy. Nor can I complain about other dishes here - the company style pate, the gravlax, the terrine of pork leg and goose liver and the ox-tail all evoke fine and fun days in France. Even the vegetarian offerings here, the 40 yolk noodles with butter and Parmesan chese and the mushroom stew in vegetable stock and cream are good enough that although they may not inspire symphonies, they are certainly deserving of a cantata or two.

The wine list here has always been excellent, and one can wine and dine here at prices ranging from the surprisingly reasonable to the out-and-out expensive, depending largely on the choice of one's wines. Among the very best deals are the fixed-price menus at NIS 140 per person that are served at all hours, the business lunch at a very reasonable NIS 85 and the excellent weekend brunch, also at NIS 85.

Since it opened, Yo'ezer has consistently maintained its name as the best casual restaurant in the country. This has been and will continue to be one of my favorite ports of call in Israel. And, on the off chance that it should need saying once again, I continue to open every snack or meal at Yo'ezer with one of their Bloody Mary cocktails.

Yo'ezer Wine Bar: Rehov Yo'ezer Ish Habira 2 (opposite the clock tower), Jaffa. Open Sunday-Thursday from 13:00-01:00 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00. Reservations suggested. Telephone: 03-683-9115.