"There is an invisible hand responsible for all this good. A hand that plows, plants, harvests, organizes, chops, mixes, grinds and prepares the herbs for serving. This hand is the hand of Haim, the man that turned a field of potatoes at the edge of Ra'anana into a small Garden of Eden…" Adva Gan Stav writes of Makom BaLev in Ra'anana.
There is much space in the heart. It is large and vast, receiving all that arrive to its gates with a large smile and open arms. I speak not of one’s heart but rather "Makom BaLev" (Space in the Heart), a slice of Gan Eden in Ra'anana. We arrived in the early evening one Wednesday, surprised by the amount of cars in the lot at such an hour (Who are all these people and who told them about our hidden garden?). We sat ourselves down, pleased and dazed by this beautiful space, under a white iron sukkah, taller than its surroundings and accented by the tree branches just next to it. We perused our menus with only part of the necessary attention because our eyes were pulled by the ironwork above our heads, each with a different bright color in it, decorating the sukkah and reflecting on our mosaic-covered wide table in a variety of lighted colors.
Two glasses of Makom BaLev's house cocktail and we were already delighted to be together in this spectacular garden to enjoy our meal. An appetizer of portobello mushrooms stuffed with a cheese cocktail on a bed of red pepper coulis was prepared just right, the mushrooms tender on the inside and seared crunchy on the outside. We also had an Eggplant Baladi grilled on the open fire, with aromas of olive wood, on a bed of country-style lentils with a bit of sourness, raw tehini and Atlantic coarse sea salt. I almost wrote down "finery, but really, how can you go wrong with ingredients such as these" until I remembered that I had once eaten, in a place whose name I will not recall here, a roasted eggplant drowned in sweet chili sauce, may God save the soul of that eggplant. This one was fantastic. Next arrival to our table Lachmah Bajoun, in the style of the Lebanese mountains, flatbread baked in the taboun oven topped with chopped lamb, pine nuts and a hint of cinnamon, served with herbed tehini.
There is an invisible hand responsible for all this good. A hand that plows, plants, harvests, organizes, chops, mixes, grinds and prepares the herbs for serving. This hand is the hand of Haim, the man that turned a field of potatoes at the edge of Ra'anana into a small Garden of Eden - Makom BaLev - Our Hidden Garden. Here between the trees and the flowers you will find hidden corners that will bring comfort to your soul. There is a structure of stone and glass, the Winter Garden, that at its center features a cluster of trees that will see to warming us when drops of rain fall on the windows, a wide structure called the "gallery" that, similar to the small house just next to the wide garden, features a variety of antique knick-knacks each with a story to tell. At the end of the garden, which you will discover bit by bit, you can find a gate out to the organic garden from which the restaurant gathers its vegetables and herbs.
The entrees arrived to fill the room left in our hearts and stomachs. A fine steak entrecote done exactly to our requested level and a light and flaky sea bass served with vegetables from the garden to offer contrast with each bit of buttery garlic.
The end to our magical evening under the legendary sukkah was a spectacular fruit pie with crumbles on top - homemade of course - with a pot of fresh herb tea from the garden. At this point, I thought to myself about the fact that I will not likely be receiving a proposal of marriage on this Romeo and Juliet porch (Thanks, I added back at the office) but at least my life will be happier if I pass some of it in this delightful Winter Garden.