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Entering Hotel Montefiore, through the stylish swing doors, you’re greeted with a smile and the happy bustle of an elegantly laid out bar. If you can navigate past the selection of tempting cocktails, the reward is a restaurant whose design echoes the magnificent eclectic style of the building’s 1920s façade. The art deco furniture is shown off under candlelight and fresh flowers complement the romantic mood. This may be the most impressive spot in town.
The hotel has been around approximately seven years, and is owned by R2M Corporation, who also run some of Tel Aviv’s other top dining names such as Brasserie, Delicatessen, and Coffee Bar. The culinary forces and innovative minds at R2M work with the staff at Hotel Montefiore to build daily menus that take advantage of the best produce available to them. As all ingredients are sourced from Israel, the menu may vary based on what is fresh and tastiest, and of course, new dishes are constantly developed to match the season. The restaurant offers hotel classics, such as a burger (topped with brie and truffle, no less), but their speciality lies in their offerings that combine the palettes of French and Vietnamese cooking.
There is no better way to help digest the surroundings than with cocktails. The menu presents time-honored drinks (the Sidecar and Tom Collins were tempting) with only the best beverages mixed to create liquid delights. The Classic Jasmine was a boozy grapefruit sensation with a perfectly bittersweet mix of campari and cointreau; the bar favorite, the Moscow Mule, both refreshes and warms in equal measures; the Stoli Gold vodka works flawlessly with the fresh lime and Fever Tree Ginger Beer.
To help soak up the alcohol, fresh breadsticks were brought straight from the oven; perfectly baked with a crispy outside and a soft inside, served with a side of lightly salted butter. The starters that followed included the Raw Yellowtail garnished with thin slices of red chilli pepper and served on beetroot slices. The fresh yellowtail was paired with Yuzo citrus and crunchy, earthy beetroot and balanced seamlessly with a “chilli-kick” to pack a lot of flavour punch for such a light dish.
The Shrimp Beignet (tasty French deep fried pastries filled with shrimp) were made even more special with the inclusion of Hotel’s in-house smoked salmon. The packets of fishy goodness were reminiscent to morsels of most exquisite fish pie which was enhanced by the light, slightly sweet, cream of corn and crunchy root chips.
The delicious beignet was followed by Cha-Gio, one of a few ‘interactive’ dishes on the Hotel’s menu. The ‘Nams’ (or Vietnamese egg rolls), are crispy, fried dough pockets filled with ground pork. After a short yet never-ending cooling time, one simply wraps the roll in lettuce adds fresh mint and dips into the paired sauce. This is a very flavorful dish that’s also very fun to eat.
Cherry tomato consommé with blue crab tortellini, when available, is the dish to try. It’s described as a ‘real special’ by the Hotel, and truly lives up to expectations. The consommé is prepared from sweet cherry tomatoes, which makes it the ideal match for the equally delicate blue crab tortellini. This dish is so refreshing, and while all the flavors balance so well they also remain individual.
Prior to beginning the main course our cocktails were replaced with wine. In the summer, the chosen wines include the classic and extraordinarily delicious Italian, Roero Arneis, Vietti 2013: an unoaked medium-bodied white with citrus and melon aromas and well-balanced crisp acidity.
Continuing on from a very successful round of starters, the main dishes at Hotel Montefiore did not disappoint. First to arrive were the spare-ribs, with a honey-chili glaze and served with roasted pumpkin on chili consume, all topped with dried thyme. The ribs were both succulent and crispy; and the glaze (quite rightfully gooey) was packed with chili, without being overpowering, and held a strong sweetness that worked very well with the spare ribs. It was a genuinely homely dish.
The peaking goose with hoisin and ginger was another ‘DIY-inspired’ dish. The main components: goose breast, pickled shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, ginger, and lettuce could be combined in a Chinese pancake to the diner’s taste. The flavorsome hoisin dipping sauce was the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’ for these delicious wraps.
Another marvelous main dish was the black cod in miso with okra tempura. The marinated fish is lightly seared, and while crispy on the outside it remained quite raw and delicate on the inside. The fish was perfectly flaky with a slight and pleasant smoky taste which complemented the salty dashi sauce. The okra was baked, and then coated with tempura for a nice crispy finish.
By means of a digestif, the grappa poli aromatica provided heady herb aromas and a minty freshness that helped cleanse the palate before tackling Hotel Montefiore’s exquisite dessert menu.
If you have been wise enough to leave enough room, the dessert menu was filled with temptations. The Saint Honore, a French classic, consisted of a soft choux profiterole filled with crème patissiere and dipped in caramel on a crisp puff pastry base, served with a side of vanilla bean cream. So good you might order another!
The lemonshelly, a lemon pie served in a glass and eaten like a tiramisu, was heavenly. A skillfully heaped spoon contained fine buttery cookie crumbs, tangy lemon filling, and rich, creamy crème fraîche. Again, it is desirable to leave room for another!
Finally, the Breton pastry, chocolate whisky, caramel dessert is the chocolate bar that kids should not be allowed near. This grown-up version of a Snickers was based on impeccably layered crunchy hazelnut, soft toffee, whiskey chocolate, and dark chocolate ganache. While very sweet it was an extremely moreish end to a divine dinner, and tremendous overall dining experience.
Hotel Montefiore has tough local competition in a crowded and constantly evolving market. But, with its stylishly elegant surroundings and skilled and scrumptious brasserie-cum-Vietnamese fusion menu there is no doubt that it can hold its own as an icon of Tel Aviv dining. Go there to treat yourself and your loved ones; you may just find your new favorite spot in town.