Phew! Art appreciation can be tiring! Following the trend in Tel Aviv of getting artists to decorate pre-fabricated objects (penguins, bulls, etc.) it is now the turn of the fiberglass globe. A lot has been written about this project, mostly negative, but I like to see it for what it really is – a colorful display with a lot of thought and talent behind most of it. After walking all along Rothschild Boulevard, looking at about 100 of these globes designed by some of Israel’s top artists, we were feeling kind of hungry. Luckily, we were at the right spot – at the beginning of this lovely thoroughfare, lies El Gaucho. This Argentinean-style restaurant chain first opened in 1982, which in a city where the life span of an average restaurant is about two years, says something about the quality of food served here.
The decor is functional, but nonetheless welcoming and lively. Large tables occupy the center of the room, smaller tables along the walls and there is an area which can be curtained off to provide private dining areas. A loaf of warm homemade bread was served along with a number of small dishes (including butter) containing assorted salads: eggplant, red pepper, chimichurri, beet and sweet potato (my personal favorite). By the time that the appetizers rolled around, we were feeling slightly revitalized.
Where to begin? The chicken liver pate, which came on little crackers and a red berry sauce, was exquisite. Soft, full of flavor, it just melts in your mouth. The meat empanadas, little pastries stuffed with ground meat, onions and other goodies were some of the best I have had outside of South America, while the chorizos were succulent and oozed with the taste of spiced meatiness. All around us were the smiling faces of happy carnivores.
Homemade french-fries and a dish of diced baked potatoes in a sweet chili sauce were brought to the table, just before our main dish. Served on a metal plate placed on a stand with hot coals, three different types of meat greeted our quickly filling stomachs. Soft, tender steaks (entrecote and sirloin) and grilled chicken breasts lay in a bed of baked potatoes with chimichurri, and grilled zucchini and bell peppers. The meat was cooked just right, brown on the outside and pink, full of juice, on the inside. For dessert we decided on something refreshing on the palette, three scoops of ice-cold sorbet.
Although the menu is meat-oriented, one can find grilled fish (salmon and catch of the day) and two types of pasta in tomato sauce – spaghetti and sweet potato ravioli. So, even vegetarians won’t feel left out. El Gaucho has one more winning card – it is among the very few kosher meat restaurants in Tel Aviv. A definite bonus considering the quality of the food here. While PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) claims that eating meat contributes to global warming, I say dig in! And El Gaucho is the place to do it.
El Gaucho Tel-Aviv
20 Rotshild St., Tel Aviv