The entrance to El Gaucho in Petach Tikva, a Mehadrin Kosher restaurant, emits two simultaneous sensations. One – a wave of bitter memories of the nightmarish wait at the DMV office one floor up; two – happiness that from the moment of entrance to being seated at the table, lovely attention is paid to the young diners among us, including a special children's menu and nice activities like colouring pages, a maze (help the boy get to the asado, or something like that) and a simple crossword puzzle. It's so simple, yet so significant, to give the kids something to do which will allow them to wait patiently until the starters arrive (and then, again, until the mains). Why don't we see this more often?
Whoever didn't see the blissful mile that spread across my little boy's face when he was served a giant cup of lemonade (50 cm tall), has never seen true happiness. His delight was doubled when we shared this El Gaucho cup with 2 yellow straws of just the right height.
When I ordered us the starters, I had planned on us splitting them, and tasting a little from each. But the hostile takeover of the chorizos by the younger element at the table, and adamant refusal to try the beef empanadas, changed the plan. Actually, I didn't complain that I'd been left alone with the empanadas, which were crisp and packed with a tasty mixture of juicy ground beef. The hot mushrooms, which had been stir-fried in parsley, garlic and onion, and served on sizzling pan, taken off the stove only a couple of seconds before being delivered, we enjoyably ate together.
El Gaucho has got the most genius gadget on which the meat sits at the centre of the table: a small grill over sizzling coals. Skills acquired over many years taught me to leave the rawest part on the grill and get back to it when it is hot and juicy, while I finish the piece that first arrived on my plate (if you don't understand what I'm talking about, it's a sign that you are consuming tiny meat portions of less than 200 grams). On our personal grill we placed, with due respect, a 250 gram cut of entrecote in area A and a 500 gram cut of entrecote in area B. Yes, even the experienced waiter, who has come across more than a few carnivores in his day, raised an eyebrow. I guess his wonder came from the empty plate he returned to the kitchen. Well, that's just how it is with a child who expends more energy than an entire reconnaissance company. The plate had been for my entrecote (that's how we are in our family, all for one, and one for all) which was liquidated together with the magnificent chimichurri sauce and fried slices of potato and sweet potato upon which a generous ton and a half of crushed garlic and chopped parsley had been sprinkled. The young diner had chosen the side dish whose name immediately brought a spark to his eye – the Native American bonfire potatoes.
We finished the meal with a thick chocolate mousse for me and strawberry-apple and mint-mixed berry sorbet for my little 'Indian' and headed home with some especially tasty mother-son time in the bag.
32 Gisin St., Petach Tikva