There are places which will always be a part of our childhood memories. And it doesn't matter how much time has passed, these places take us right back every time. An example of such as place is Yotvata Ba'Ir (Yotvata in the City) in the Azrieli Mall. Every time I was at this mall, whether it was for a movie, shopping or as a loitering aimless teenager, Yotvata was there, to conclude the good time.
This week, after a long absence from the Azrieli Mall, Michal asked me to accompany her for a bit of shopping. We strolled around, shopped, and around evening time we found ourselves opposite the familiar Yotvata sign. A quick stolen glance at the clock, and we immediately remembered the one thing that characterizes Yotvata the most: It doesn't matter what time of day it is, there is no way the place will be empty. We entered with nostalgic smiles.
In keeping with tradition, we started the meal with a couple of the fresh shakes that Yotvata is famous for – and rightly so. I had a milk based pineapple, banana and date shake, while Michal had strawberry, banana, date. The shakes come in large personal sized carafes, which are enough to pour 2 and half glasses over the course of the evening. The shake itself was fresh and meticulously prepared with the exact right amounts of each ingredient. But after all, it is the Yotvata shake – we already know that nothing else has got it beat.
Not long after the shakes, our dishes arrived. We'd already forgotten how large the portions at Yotvata really are. Did I say large? I meant huge! A dish of fettuccini was set down in front of me, and just like I asked, with two types of sauce – cream and tomato. At Yotvata, they don't mix the sauces in advance, so in order to create the sauce commonly known as rose, the dish arrives half covered in cream, with the other covered in tomato. And so, it is left for me to decide how I'd like to eat my fettuccini – mix it all together, or eat each half separately. The dish was tasty and enjoyable, and as usual, what I didn't finish, I asked them to wrap up, and thus I left with enough for tomorrow's lunch.
Opposite Michal sat a steaming pan with 2 pieces of mushroom and cheese lasagna. This dish turned out to be a nice surprise that we didn't remember seeing on previous visits. The lasagna was filling, very tasty, and I mostly enjoyed the fact that Michal, who couldn't finish the dish alone, asked me again and again to help her out – a request to which I happily obliged.
At the table next to us sat Ofer, the restaurant manager, with a young couple who had come to meet him. Ofer and I go way back (he's a friend of my brother's from high school), so we invited him and his friend's to join us at our table. When they came over to sit with us, we understood that the couple had come to get some details about booking an event here – a baby party for their first born daughter. It turns out that at this Yotvata location, kosher dairy events – serving all the restaurants well known dishes - can be booked. For events, the upper level of the restaurant is closed off for the entire event with the use of a screen, allowing for a completely private event while the rest of the restaurant continues operating as usual. This allows for an event which simultaneously offers the authentic Yotvata experience, but also allows for complete privacy.
At the end of the evening, thoroughly satiated and satisfied, we gathered up our shopping bags, said goodbye to Ofer and his new friends (who already booked a date a Yotvata for their event), and headed down to the parking garage. On the way, we understood something important – when a lovely nostalgic memory proves itself worthwhile in the present, you know you are dealing with something of quality. And Yotvata, possibly one of Israeli's oldest chains, knows this well.
132 Menachem Begin, Azrieli Towers, first floor, Tel Aviv.