When all around us unrest is rumbling, and in addition to the storm down south, everyday news items about the laid off people being thrown out into the cold fill the papers, an outing to a restaurant turns into an event with potential for great guilt. On the other hand – you've got to eat, right? And will it help the residents of the south, or all those who have been fired if we choose to suffer? Of course not! So, with that sort of overly developed and sobering reality, I rounded up my friend Gavin for a guy's night out at El Asador.
El Asador has an interesting location. The Yad Harutzim area is at the beginning of an evolution in which sooty garages are making way for shiny new car display halls, design offices and sophisticated clubs. Alex, the chef and manager who received us, was a food engineer in Odessa, Ukraine, who, upon his immigration to Israel underwent a change at Tadmor to become a chef. Today he has 'engineered' the El Asador concept that combines the Eastern European orientation with the Israeli inclination towards meat, preferably on the grill.
At El Asador they believe in the philosophy if no nonsense food. They understand that a person comes into a restaurant does so (amongst other reasons) because he's hungry. For starters, which manage to slightly curb the hunger, and at the same time to arouse and tease the salivary glands, we got a range of little plates with house bread hot out of the oven. Here, they call this 'opening the table', and starring in this opening was liver pate, spicy tomato and pepper salsa (with a touch of cilantro) as well as carrot salad, Ukrainian salad, tehina, pickled cabbage and Romanian eggplant.
On the drink front El Asador focuses on new world wines, specifically from South Africa. But we, in identification with our brothers the workers, chose a 1/2 litre of draught Goldstar, which accompanied us as we tried to do two things at once (an undertaking which, being men, I'll inform you from the start was a failure): to deal with the starters (as well as the bread hot out of the oven), and make a strategic decision about the mains. For task number two we turned to Alex and our lovely waitress for help, and after substantial consultation we chose a suitable red meat (veal filet) and a representative no less fitting from the pork family (medallions of pork tenderloin).
The meat saw us through another round of Goldstar (the doctor ordered us to avoid dehydration at any cost), as did the sides of cooked dill potatoes (so simple, yet so special and tasty), and a chopped vegetable salad. Sharp eyed readers have probably already noticed that a meal at El Asador revolves entirely around meat: The starters whet our appetites without filling us up too much, and the side dishes arrive in order to diversify and enrich, but not steal the show. Alex, who understands that sometimes a vegetarian out with carnivorous friends wanders into the restaurant, promises to incorporate a few non-meat dishes into the menu soon.
For dessert we ate a drunken pear – a pear cooked in wine according to Tadmor's prime traditional method. On the way home we zigzagged a bit on our bikes, tired and nicely stuffed, and we felt as if we'd just finished a full day at work. Lucky for us it was late, but a shame we'd have to get up the next morning for work…
32 Homa VeMigdal, Tel Aviv