A stressful week leading to another period of tight schedules and pressure. I needed to relax a bit. Just kick back, enjoy myself. Maybe eat something as well. I am also trying to get back into shape. I used to run a lot. Even did a marathon. Nowadays, I find I have less time and energy. But, I do manage to drag myself out of bed for the occasional 12-15 kilometers. Wednesday was one such day. I did a quick 12 km and decided to go off for breakfast to refuel.
The hustle and bustle of Ben Yehuda, one of Tel Aviv’s busiest streets, can be daunting at times. The southern end, towards Allenby, is an area of stores, offices and hotels. It is also home to Caf? Monica – a quaint, surprisingly pampering restaurant with a slightly European feel to it. Monica is open from 7:00 am to 19:00, which is a busy time in this area. The main focus of the food is therefore breakfast and lunch. When I arrived at 10:00, there were already couples drinking coffee, people meeting over breakfast and the occasional person sitting alone, like me.
There are four items listed on the menu under breakfasts: Monica, Israeli, Health (muesli, fresh fruit, yoghurt, almonds, raisins and honey) and Coffee & Pastry. I decided to try the Monica, feeling that if it is named after the restaurant, it must be good. I was not disappointed. I was served two eggs cooked to my request, small dishes of butter, cream cheese, salty cheese, homemade jam and tuna, a nice piece of smoked salmon, bread, one of the freshest vegetable salads I’ve been served in a long time and a nice cup of coffee. The whole time I was there, there was a steady stream of customers either on their way to work and stopping off to drink a quick coffee or to take one away. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I felt extremely relaxed, which was one of my goals for that morning.
The menu at Caf? Monica is focused and seems to offer something for everyone. Aside from the aforementioned breakfasts, you can find a fair selection of salads (served with bread), sandwiches and toasts (served with salad), pasta and quiches (also served with salad). The owner is proud of his coffee and his pasta, so be sure to check these out. I can only attest to the former, which was done to perfection – not too weak and not too bitter. A rarity these days, as many places have a tendency to burn their coffee. I decided to have another, and ordered a shot of perfect espresso.
Caf? Monica is popular with both professionals and the tourist crowd. It is not unlikely to find a business meeting happening at a table next to a French couple fresh from the beach. There are too few restaurants in Tel Aviv where I would go to for more than just the food. The atmosphere in Caf? Monica is so welcoming that one does not feel awkward eating alone. I didn’t.
34 Ben yehuda St.