Israel, land of contrasts and encounters. Ancient stories of families and people who are grafted onto a difficult and stubborn land from which, however, almost miraculously, everything can be born and grow. Israel is also the theatre of great human development, which has created wonders in many fields. This is the theatre of one of the most complex culinary melting pots in the world. The scents of oriental spices, the strong and almost biblical flavours of goat farming, the riches of the Mediterranean, the Levantine tradition of meze, the temperate taste of Yiddish kasherut and the rich taste of Sephardi cuisine. Everything is proposed without priority, without pre-established order. The propensity to travel, to meet and to be met, which is now a new feature of the young generations of Israel, completes the picture of this work of gastronomic art with innovative techniques and refined forms.
In fact, Israel knows how to chase the world and overcome many limits. In many fields it shows that it can do well and better, and the proud dignity that is found in everything there, can only strike the addicted Europeans, especially in Tel Aviv, the driving force behind a growth that always seems to be in the making.
In this open scene has its small theatre chef Raz Rahav, mentioned among the under 30 most interesting people by the Forbes magazine, an avant-garde restaurant, yet warm and welcoming, in the area between the old Jaffa and Neve Tzedek. 18 seats around a large perfectly integrated show-cooking counter that, like in a theatrical performance, follows a precise, almost obsessive script; it is no coincidence that the name of the restaurant, OCD recalls that of the obsessive-compulsive disorder, with reference to order in the kitchen, perfection of balance, flawless plating, punctual service.
There is no à-la-carte menu, but the script of a pièce that is revealed little by little. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial, not excessively formal, the result of a strict logic in the preparation and service times, of a balanced interaction between the staff and customers that keeps dinner at an unexpected level of reserve and almost intimacy between the diners.
Fifteen courses that follow one another gently, while the guest wonders “what will be that piece of meat now taken out of the oven?” and the scent of something that will come after is revealed, of a leavened or a sauce. What is missing from our best restaurants, if not the incipient wonder of seeing the birth of our dishes? In the dining room we chat nicely, but we only talk about the food.
Raz Rahav understood this and puts on the show. Presumptuous? Maybe a little. But the result is literally spectacular and with the freshness of a menu that is renewed seasonally several times.
The price of the menu at the time of our visit was 370 NIS (about 95 euros). The wine list is rich and boasts many Israeli labels (the world of viticulture in Israel deserves a special mention, as there are more and more varieties grown and good quality labels from the Golan area, Galilee and Mount Carmel).
The dishes are an avant-garde of cooking techniques and combinations of flavours, always successful and of different origins. As always in haute cuisine, the impression is sometimes that of a reworked memory, sometimes that of an immediate and simple novelty but the result of a unique context. It depends on the perspective from which you look at it and some certainties may change.
Besides that, for once it does not hurt to get out of the all-European inflation of foie gras, pigeon and honey glazed pork.
The only doubt, or perhaps a provocation: is the implicit message that haute cuisine cannot be caught up in the dictates of kasherut?
Mark this restaurant and if you find yourself passing through the white city, remember that it is absolutely worth a visit and book well in advance (1-2 months!).
Fig Leaf Sorbet w/ Burnt Sage, and Grapes
Corn Tartlet w/ Shiso
Pumpkin Tartlet w/ Cured Lime and Zaatar
Melon Tartltet w/ Aioli and Yellowtail Bresaola
Tomato Consommé w/ Ginger, Mustard Greens, and Roasted Tomato oil
Beef Tartare w/ Crispy COrn, and Wood Sorrel
Marinated Trout w/ Plum Variations, and Buttermilk Whey
Dehydrated Beet Juice w/ Shallots, and Cured Grey Mullet
Parkerhouse Rolls w/ Whipped Tomato Cream
Streamed Red Snapper w/ Lychee, Beans, and Smoked Fish Bones Broth
Zucchini w/ Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Pistachios, and Lemon Grass
Aged Local Duck w/ Celery, Raspberry, and Peanuts
Duck Rillettes w/ Celery Root, and Persian Lemon Powder
9 Months Aged Goat Cheese
Aerated Watermelon Parfait w/ Kalamata Olives and Yougurt
Raspberry w/ Zaatar and Pumpkin Seeds
Chocolate Peanut Truffle
Cherry Pit Choux
Wine: Marawi, The Beta Series of Levinson, Barkan, 2017, Israel.
Price: 130€ / ps
This restaurant has been awarded “Il datterino giallo” by Ildatterino.com
The “datterino giallo” identifies a high level kitchen, with a marked degree of innovation, which in addition to the perfection of the craftsmanship of the preparation of dishes, is the vehicle of an aesthetic experience.