After spending seven years working in renowned kitchens both abroad and here in Israel, working under greats like Gordon Ramsey, and learning and exploring the facets of food and techniques of cooking, Chef Yuval Fachler decided that it was time for him to build something of his own. He began hosting one or two night pop-up restaurants in Israel in locations like empty hangars, galleries, and even a 30th-story uninhabited apartment.
All things ‘pop-up’ have become increasingly popular over the last decade or so, ranging from pop-up clothing stores to toy stores to bars and clubs and, of course, restaurants. Their defining characteristic is that they sprout up seemingly overnight, but before you know it, it is as if they never existed. Hosting such short-term dining experiences has allowed Fachler to express and share his cooking easily without the financial commitment of opening a full service restaurant. But after three months of pop-ups, Fachler wanted to take it a step further. He wanted to preserve the DNA of the pop-up, but create something more permanent. This is where Salva Vida was born.
Open Wednesday through Saturday, Salva Vida boasts a full menu that combines fresh natural ingredients from carefully chosen local suppliers to create what Fachler describes as a fusion of his journey both as a cook and as a person. Each of his dishes focuses heavily on its ingredients with each of them utilizing the others in the plate to bring out their own natural flavors, with the addition of not much more than salt and pepper. Additionally, the thoughtful combination of textures in each dish enhances the experience of every bite.
Fachler’s tuna dish is composed of tuna sashimi so fresh it tastes as though it was caught right before being plated, combined with sweet cubes of crisp Pink Lady apples, toasted pine nuts, and little dollops of creme fraiche. These flavors are enhanced by the subtle spice of a few thin slices of hot red pepper and the underlying crunch of scattered grains of sea salt.
The Pasta Rosetta is a pasta stuffed with mushrooms, quinoa, and ricotta with a bechamel sauce. Again, texture plays a role, with the subtle addition of cashew adding both flavor and feel to the dish. Fachler masterfully achieves a rich and creamy yet light pasta dish that doesn’t leave you feeling heavy and on the brink of a food coma.
Other delicious options include salmon sashimi complemented by red grapefruit, pistachio, and an avocado wasabi cream; creamy burrata mozzarella served with crisp heirloom and cherry tomatoes; and lamb chops with small roasted potatoes and ‘lamb bacon’ modestly flavored with roasted tomatoes, salt and pepper. Fachler has also kept vegans in mind with dishes like his baby kale salad with flavors of strawberry and red onion and his carrot risotto based in cashew butter.
Fachler modestly states that he is no great pastry chef, and that the two dessert offerings are simply childhood memories, but sweet-lovers will be far from disappointed. His Mrs. B’s popcorn is a perfect marriage of sweet and salty, centered around two leaf molds of cold brulee with pieces of salted popcorn, caramel, and apple. The only complaint that everyone seemed to have was when the plate was empty! His Peanut Butter and Jelly manifests as an olive-oil based cake surrounded by little scoops of fresh strawberry jam and small sheets of peanut brittle.
Although the full menu is only available Wednesday through Saturday, patrons can still enjoy a taste of Fachler’s magic Sunday through Tuesday by having a drink at the bar and sampling whatever snacks are being served up that day. Salva Vida will be open at Brown TLV until June 15, after which it will float on to its next temporary home.
‘Salva Vida’- Restaurant in Movement, Brown TLV, Kalischer 25, Tel Aviv, Israel, +975 3 778 8996
By Mya Marshall