Sometimes you need to state the obvious. The obvious doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, particularly at our restaurants, which have a tendency to take you as a given. They raise prices, the food quality drops, they rely on their reputation. But Hotel Montefiore is not like the rest. And the clearest evidence of this is the lunch menu. This leads us to state what many consider to be obvious: Hotel Montefiore has the best lunch menu in Tel Aviv.
What’s even more impressive is that the restaurant does this without serving food that’s particularly creative or inspiring, working with a conservative menu comprised mainly of classic dishes. But Hotel Montefiore serves much more than just food, and an afternoon at the restaurant includes a rather rare combination of generosity, precision, service and atmosphere.
Attractive, fairly priced lunch menus are part of the agenda of R2M, the group that owns Hotel Montefiore as well as some of Tel Aviv’s other top restaurants, including Brasserie, Coffee Bar and Delicatessen. Lunches are 70 to 80 shekels ($18-$21) a person. Lunch at Hotel Montefiore is a sort of Tel Aviv ritual, unfortunately one with no real competitors.
Lunch includes bread, butter, an appetizer, a main course, a small dessert and coffee for the price of a regular main dish. The appetizers change daily, and main dishes cost between 62 shekels (spaghetti with tomato sauce) and 160 shekels (beef filet with goose liver). Many dishes are between 70-80 shekels.
The meal begins with a bucket full of thin mini-baguettes accompanied by a black stone topped with particularly decadent butter. This simple bread course has become iconic, particularly due to the means of presentation and the freshness of the bread. It’s a great way to start the meal, particularly because many of the dishes are not huge, so you can eat as much bread as you want without worrying about ruining your appetite. Those who like spice can ask for grilled hot peppers at no additional cost.
The appetizers change daily, and are usually limited to four options. During our most recent visit, this included soup, two salads — a green salad with apples, and a fennel-persimmon salad — and potatoes with mackerel. The soup was surprising: It contained a good vegetable broth, chickpeas and mangold, topped with a generous quantity of pickled lemon, making it the type of soup you’d expect to find at a simple lunch restaurant but with an interesting twist from the lemon. The potatoes with mackerel was a classic Hotel Montefiore-style dish — a simple dish, precisely executed. No more and no less.
The list of main dishes is also relatively limited, but all have become classics at this point. They include chicken tikka, chopped steak, and grilled pork with bacon and Manchego cheese. We ordered Vietnamese crispy chicken (82 shekels), one of the menu’s more innovative offerings. The good part of the dish was the oyster sauce and vegetable broth that the chicken was served in. The even better part was the amazing crispy coating on the chicken, embowed with favor and preserving the chicken’s moisture.
We ordered another classic main dish — corvina with a lemon grass cream (110 shekels). The fish was fresh and prepared properly, and the lemon sauce was excellent, taking the dish something out of the ordinary.
Main dishes come with a side course that includes rice, buttery mashed potatoes, or crispy green beans.
Our meal ended with a small dessert and a coffee — you can make that an ice coffee if you’d like. The dessert also changes daily; the most popular offerings include the St. Honore profiterole topped with caramel. On our most recent visit, we received a decadent little brownie, to help us cope with the most challenging aspect of the meal: Returning to life outside the restaurant.
Hotel Montefiore. Montefiore 36, Tel Aviv. Telephone: 03-564-6100. Lunches are served between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays. Not kosher.
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