An important aspect of the meal at The Local was the atmosphere, which was relaxed yet sophisticated. There is seating both outside and inside, the inside decorated with homey décor and dim lighting. Lior Levy explained that the purpose of the pre-fixed menu was to eat and drink a lot, to enjoy the evening, and take your time. There was no need to eat quickly and rush out of the restaurant, which was definitely reflected in the space between courses, leaving just the right amount of time to digest a little before the next course. The cozy atmosphere allows you to relax and enjoy the food.
The first course of the tasting menu was a variety of salads: polenta with mushrooms, tzatziki sauce, eggplant slices over eggplant spread, mixed raw vegetables, and potato slices with fennel and roasted pepper. The salads also came with a fresh challah roll. Each tastes better than the last. The raw vegetables were so fresh it was like they were picked that morning, refreshing on a hot night. The star of the salad course was the polenta with mushrooms. It was delicious and the polenta was cooked perfectly.
After the salads came the fish course: sashimi with grapes and radishes in a vinaigrette, fried barbounia (the whole fish) with spicy aioli, and skewered salmon with tomato vinaigrette. The sashimi and the salmon skewers were amazing. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the sashimi was fresh. The barbounia was a little tricky because there were a lot of little bones to eat around. But the salvageable bites dipped into the aioli tasted phenomenal.
The meat course was the best of the night. It consisted of only two dishes but they were bigger and more filling than the others: beef tortellini with broccoli and eggplant in a red wine sauce and chicken souvlaki on laffa. The souvlaki was good, but the tortellini stole the show. Besides the mushroom polenta, the beef tortellini was the hit dish of the night. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce was savory, and the vegetables balanced out the heaviness of the meat. Luckily, the beef tortellini is part of The Local’s regular menu.
What’s not to love about the dessert? The dessert was a trio of three small dishes: malabi with pistachio and coconut crème, mascarpone crème with kadaif noodles, and crème brûlée. Each dessert tasted better with each bite. Just like the rest of the meal, the dessert was delicious and added to the Mediterranean theme of the night.
According to the owner, drinking good alcohol is just as big of part of the tasting menu as eating good food is. The Local offers beer, wine, and a variety of cocktails at a specific price because of the event. The cocktails were listed on a chalk board on the wall. The best reason to get a cocktail is the sheer size of the drinks; people were sipping colorful cocktails from giant mason jars.
One of the best reasons to try the tasting menu at The Local is that the menus change every time. Next month, there will be completely different dishes. There is something fun and exciting about a tasting menu – it’s spontaneous, but everything is delicious.
The Local is situated in one of the best parts of Tel Aviv. Ibn Gabirol Street is filled with cocktails bars and clubs to venture to after the meal. Besides the nightlife close by, there are also many parking lots around the restaurant and after 7 pm parking is available on the street right outside the restaurant. So, it’s not hard to find somewhere to park, a huge problem in many areas of Tel Aviv.
The staff was wonderful and the service was exceptional. The waiters were attentive and polite, always remembering to fill up water glasses, a rarity in Tel Aviv. In addition, the staff caters to English speakers with minimal Hebrew skills. The menu for the night hung on a wall in the restaurant, but it was only in Hebrew. Each time a new dish was brought over, the staff made sure to carefully explain everything in English. The pleasantness of the staff definitely added to the evening.
Tasting menus often lead to bloating and uncomfortable fullness by the time dessert comes. This wasn’t the case at The Local. Dishes were perfectly portioned, allowing diners to comfortably try everything on the menu.
Fresh, healthy food
Finally, the food at The Local was fresh. From the vegetables in the salads to the pistachio coconut crème, everything was clean and light, not heavy. It was a healthy meal that was designed around quality nutritious food.
By Molly Winik
Molly is a recent college graduate who chose to live and teach English abroad in Israel for a year instead of getting a 9-5 job. Born in New York, raised in New Jersey. She has a large blended family that left her one of six kids. She has an unhealthy obsession with her English bulldog, Bubba. She loves to write and can’t wait to share her experiences and challenges abroad with other women travelers! Follow her travels here.