If you’re looking for a restaurant with a great view in Tel Aviv, Raphael is probably one of the best. The chef behind the name is Rafi Cohen, which defines the restaurant as Resto-Bistro. Raphael is well known and a stable establishment in the Israeli culinary scene, existing since 2001 which is quite an impressive feat.
Located in the David Tower on Hayarkon st., its big windows overlook the beautiful Tel Aviv beach. And even if you’re not a beach person, the place is huge and with many seating options, including an indoors smoking room and a large bar.
During weekends they offer an affordable lunch business menu, which is a combination of their menu and evening menus. The concept is many shareable dishes to start followed by main courses. The price per diner is 145₪/$37, which gives quite the value for your money considering the generous amount of food and the top notch ingredients used.
Dishes started to find themselves landing on the table, beginning with the bread basket which includes several types of bread as well as Raphael’s famous Focaccia which definitely lived up to its name. We were careful not to stuff ourselves with bread but it was really tempting to do so.
The 10 starter dishes may come in small plates, but combined they serve a formidable amount of food:
Fresh mediterranean mackerel with sour cream, fresh onions and new olive oil.
On the left: Bulgrian hummus (ancient preparation) with tahini, lemon juice, tomatoes and Syrian olive oil. This is one of the chef’s specialities, and had a rich taste and creamy texture.
On the right: Lima beans and arab spinach in olive oil and lemon juice.
Zucchini and green leeks in olive oil and aged parmesan cheese.
Salad of aromatic leaves and lettuce hearts, in mustard vinaigrette and aged parmesan cheese.
Cavolo nero and white onion in olive oil and turkish goat milk cheese.
Moroccan cigars stuffed with rose veal offal and “al arz” tahini. One of the signature dishes. The cigars were tasty, crunchy and not too oily.
Baby artichokes in olive oil with arugula in anchovy and caper vinaigrette.
Assorted tomatoes salad with “ha’meiri” white safed cheese, red onions and olive oil.
Young courgettes stuffed with basmati rice and lamb meet, cooked in brown butter and Uzbek currants.
One of our favorite starters, even though we don’t really like stuffed vegetables in general.
Char-grilled eggplants with sheep’s milk yoghurt, garden cress and olive oil.
We really enjoyed these dishes. The only issue with most of them was the excessive amount of olive oil used. A lighter touch with the olive oil could have made for much lighter experience.
For main course we went with the Duck breast roasted in goose fat and thyme, with winter vegetables and natural stock. The duck was nice, but nothing to tell your grandchildren about.
We also picked the dish recommended by our waitress: Fat cow sirloin with roasted market vegetables and red wine (+25₪/$7). The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned, providing tasty, juicy bites. The vegetables also added some nice crunchy contrast
Both came with the same side of mashed potatoes. While it tasted very nice, we wish each course would come with a separate side to add some variety.
Even though at this point we were stuffed beyond stuffed, we couldn’t miss the dessert. We opted for something lighter that didn’t include pastry – Vanilla “crema” with red fruit and italian meringue. Cute.
To conclude – we had a tasty, good time at Raphael. While the meal itself was very well prepared, and used fine ingredients, it didn’t demonstrated originality or creativity. The crowd consists mainly of groups, families and older couples. Raphael is a perfect place for a family meal: professional, consistent, well prepared food where every diner can find at least some dish to fit his palette.