Going past Kfar Tabor, the road winds around through Kfar Hacherski, Kfar Kama, and then, heading downhill, it struck me. A stunning valley. A bit of utterly isolated nature. A striking view, immersed in green, some arranged in rectangles, others a bit more wild. The soul opens and smiles. And in the heart of all this beauty, resides the quiet and reserved little village of Yavniel. A few cows, a boy on a large Belgian horse, smiling people, a gate and a few cypress trees. Here we are, in this dreamy revelation. An hour and 40 minutes from the sprawling urbanity of Gush Dan surrounding Tel Aviv – accessible and inviting. It’s unbelievable how much beauty there is in this country when you set the cynicism aside.
We were on our way to Abramsons Meat Bar. Two hungry men. We’d eaten a very early breakfast and now it was almost 3 in the afternoon. We weren’t sure what would be happening at the restaurant at such a late lunch hour.
We parked at the entrance, on the main road of the village. On the front patio people were sitting and eating overlooking the view as we headed inside. Sometimes you just get a feeling that everything is going to be just fine. That’s how we felt when Lihi Abramson approached us. Graceful and smiling, she gave us the impression that she knows what she’s doing. Later in the afternoon, we discovered that she is the driving force behind the restaurant. Stories that connected family roots (three generations have lived in this village), an American uncle, pastry making studies, and a textile factory that stopped producing and made an ecological transformation to a welcoming restaurant that respects its past and offers ample joie de vivre.
We took a seat, our nice waitress laid the table and brought over wine and cold water. We asked to sample the starters, we carefully selected our mains and Lihi chose our desserts for us. After 2 and half hours, you know someone well, right? House bread with spreads, a dish of antipasti, vine leaves stuffed with lamb and rice, chorizos, lamb kebabs and chicken wings stir-fried in sweet chili sauce. Have I mentioned we were really hungry?
It was excellent! Fresh hot bread in just the correct amount. We liked the spreads, especially the garlic confit. The crisp grilled antipasti offered an abundance of colour and flavour. The sausages were piquant, juicy and flavourful. The kebabs and the wings disappeared straight away, but more than all the above, we enjoyed the vine leaves the most: fat and bursting with the outstanding and delicately spiced rice and meat combination, the filling nicely contrasted the refined tartness of the leaves. This dish was generously served, and arrived with excellent pickled peppers.
The waitress smiled, collected our empty dishes, re-set the table and then our mains arrived. Even the two of us – who know how to eat – were surprised by the bounty. We were sharing a flank steak and the prime rib. I respect a restaurant that serves flank steak – hard to get, and its flavour is a meeting between entrecote and filet. Two large pieces which had been skewered to maintain their shaped arrived at the table on a sizzling platter. Then came the prime rib – a piece of meat that promised to be 500 grams, but in my opinion was more than 600. Along with the meat came a side of well-browned fried potatoes, onion ‘strings’ that had been floured, spiced and dipped in boiling oil, during which time they obtained a caramel flavour, and a chopped vegetable salad.
The cook was paying attention and the flank steak came just a touch over rare. The prime rib was medium, with the outer parts appropriately seared. Clearly, the next 40 minutes were a delight. Here and now were the best a diner could ask for. What can I say? High quality meat, properly prepared, good wine, bingo!
We split dessert. He had a mug of tea and I a short espresso, strong and aromatic. Then came a large plate – chocolate soufflé with chocolate ice cream. As the spoon enters the soufflé, hot rich chocolate lava spills out. Baked soufflé, sweet lava and cold ice cream is like a jazz number – chocolate improvisation in C. We left imparting hugs. We’ll be back. And boy do we ever recommend!
Abramson Meat Bar
4 Beit Gan, Yavniel