During November the most popular restaurants from around the world sent their chefs for an entire week to take over the kitchen of some of the most exciting restaurants in Tel Aviv. This big culinary project is called Round Tables. The dinner at Catit was not part of this project. So why am I telling you all of this? Since I was too late to join the party and book a table to the Round Tables project, I missed the places I wanted to visit. The only tables left were in restaurants that less interested me. I was truely disappointed so when I saw chef Meir Adoni of Catit is hosting Enrique Olvera, the chef of the best restaurant in Mexico, I was so thrilled. I felt like this would be the perfect “compensation”.
Enrique Olvera is the chef owner of Pujol, which is not only ranked 1st in Mexico, but is also ranked 16th in the world according to San Pellegrino. Meir Adoni is known to be one of the most talented chefs in Israel, and among them he’s perhaps the nicest and kindest. He opened Catit in 2002, which became a culinary institute. I’m certain that if Michelin people would visit Tel Aviv, Catit will get one star at least. To me this is my second time eating here and it’s definitely not going to be my last. The restaurant is not big and has 8 tables in total, but it does not feel overcrowded. The staff is very professional and presented each dish, with its many components, with knowledge and fluency. The light jazz music in the background contributed to the inviting atmosphere. which didn’t feel stuffy and formal.
For this special dinner both chefs composed a unique tasting menu of 7 dishes.
In addition, they had three special, tequila based, cocktails: Spicy Mediterranean Margarita, Golden Margarita and Mexican Collins. Since we’re not so fond of spicy cocktails and usually prefer the more sweet-sour ones we went for the latter two. The Golden Margarita was composed of Olmeca Blanco tequila, Quantro, lime juice and salt crown.
The Mexican Collins was composed of Olmeca Blanco tequila, lime juice, cucumber, basil and sparkling water. I loved this one much better than the margarita, which was a bit too sour for my taste.
The first dish to hit our table was this amazing Anise and Smoked Paprika Tuile that was full of flavors. None of them was dominant so each bite tasted like something completely different.
We also got two kinds of breads – Sourdough Bread with Coriander Seeds and Rye Bread. They were both prefect – extra crispy and crackling crust which was a wonderful contrast to the soft insides.
Along with them we got three different dips: Smoked Butter with Oysters, Offal Paste and Chicken Fat with Persian Lemon Zest and Grated Lime Peel. All three of them were unique and tasteful and posed a great match to both the bread and Tuile. The butter was the softest. So creamy and fluffy, I held my self not to scoop all of it in my mouth. I could eat this everyday (don’t judge me).
The first starter served was Scorched Crystal Shrimp (Meir Adoni), which was comprised of three plates:
1. Mango cream, lime and habanero, marinated tropical pear and Mojito Granita
During the first small bites, the mango cream is very dominant and it feel like something you could have for dessert. This is up until you reach the shrimp, which create a perfect blend of all the sweet and sour flavors in the dish.
2. Buttermilk and coriander oil, crispy plantain, black bean cream and smoked chipotle, sour cream and Persian lemon
I love how plantain is starting to show up in Tel Aviv restaurants. This dish not only looks fantastic but tastes delicious as well.
3. Goat Yogurt sphere and lime, onion gel and Ossetra caviar
This is a nice take on the traditional caviar dish. Ossetra caviar is one of the most prized and expensive types of caviar. Turns out that Israel is the leader in the production of Russian Osserta caviar (Really! I read that on Wikipedia).
The second starter we received was Latin Crudo from the Mediterranean Sea (Enrique Olvera):
Grouper, kalamata olives, garlic oil
Caviar Limes, coriander, cherry tomatoes, avocado and scallion
The waiter explained to us that in Mexico they don’t throw anything away so the sauce is made from shrimp heads and fish bones. The avocado slices were blackened, which gave them a really unique campfire-y taste. From the olive puree to the okra-y texture shrimp – every part of this dish was well executed.
For the middle course we got Smoked and Pickled Calf Tongue (Meir Adoni):
“Semolina Polenta”, garden peas, coriander, Parmesan cheese
Lamb sweetbreads and smoked eel ragù, caramelized onions
Mexican peppers Harissa, smoked crème fraîche and chicken stock
This dish impressed us both visually and smell-ily(…? olfactorily?) . This dish contained yet another smoked ingredient, which gave the food a dimension I’m not used to. Don’t be misled though – despite how it looks the cream felt very fresh.
With the Calf Tongue we also got a plate of Corn Cream Filled Coriander Gel Empanada
Milk, cumin, habanero and lime vinaigrette.
As a palette cleanser – “Dirty” Gin and Tonic (Meir Adoni)
Gin and tonic sorbet, cucumber, aloe vera gel
Dried\fresh green olives , olive water syrup and green curry
The olives felt like candy and the aloe vera was fun to eat.
For main entry they served Leg of Young Lamb (Enrique Olvera)
Classic mole and cashew sauce, cauliflower, lime and smoked paprika
Most of the dishes had really generous portions so by the time we received the main entry I was already stuffed. This dish also included purple potato (which didn’t appear on the menu). Both it and the cauliflower were lightly grilled and retained their crunchiness. The carrot, on the other hand, spent an entire night in the oven, so it was super soft and mashable.
Each chef presented his idea of the perfect Mexican dessert:
Red Guava Sorbet (Meir Adoni)
Habanero and honey yogurt cream, smoked corn sponge, grated lime peel
Crispy corn, white chocolate and chili.
Scorched Corn Peel Meringue (Enrique Olvera)
Burnt vanilla cream, mascarpone cheese and corn cream.
With the check we got a small gift – Brownie with passion fruit sauce wrapped in a clay flowerpot.
As well as a Chartreuse bonbon in licorice powder, which had a very strong anise flavor.
The tasting meal cost 590₪ ($152) and each cocktail was 55₪ ($14). Eating at Catit is by no means a casual occasion but for the experience, high end ingredients and culinary vision it’s definitely worth the splurge.