In one of the few spontaneous moments that come to me every so often, I grabbed a Tel Avivian friend and took off for Bilo Centre in Rehovot. In between the humiliation of asking for directions and Ivri Lider’s new CD, we managed to find our way to Bilo Centre. Our trip wasn’t easy, but certainly worth our while. We landed at Lebanese restaurant Abu Salah. In contrast to all the chain restaurants in most malls and the ‘as if’ restaurants (as if they’re actually authentic) this is a truly authentic restaurant.
Just like in the movies, the waiter suddenly burst forth with no less than 9 little meze dishes and, with striking juggling skills, placed them on the table. We started with the fried hyssop pita because it’s always fun to start with something new. The truth? It’s totally possible to make a meal of the mezes alone. As we examine the contents of our table, I managed to liquidate the melt-in-your-mouth potato salad. Also on the table was fried zucchini, pepper and carrot salad, spicy carrot salad, cabbage salad, baba ganoush, coleslaw, tabouleh, Turkish salad and, of course, authentic hummus with tehina. With hot pitas in hand, we polished off the salads. To spoil us, the waiter also brought us a couple of kubeh which were as tasty as my Syrian grandmother’s.
My friend wanted to celebrate the end of the school year (yes, teacher’s celebrate that too) so we ordered the lamb chops. A large portion of meaty succulent mutton chops arrived with house chips. When I say house chips I mean chips like you’d make in your house. Tasty and crispy just like I like, without the oil overpowering the potato. I know that mutton chops are considered the best dish at a Middle Eastern restaurant but I actually think that the dish I ordered was the best of the house: A mixed grill that included tastes of all the meat on the menu. To be honest, the dish contained more than just a taste of each meat – more like a large piece. And that’s how I found myself tasting super soft chicken livers, a skewer of perfectly seasoned spring chicken, mutton kebab that tasted as if it had just come off the barbeque (well, actually, it had just come off the barbeque), and a mutton chop large enough to really sink your teeth into.
At the end of this lush meal, while giving our digestive muscles some time to rest, I saw my friend almost jump out of her chair in alarm. A fraction of a section later I understood what was the matter. Our juggling waiter was surpassing his earlier performance with an over my head move and them another couple over the table moves involving 2 glasses of steaming tea with such supreme professionalism that not only did nothing land in my lap, but I think the tea didn’t even move in the glass. With the tea he brought 2 sweet as honey baklavas. Before we managed to finish the baklavas he arrived with a large dish of bubblegum, cherry, vanilla, coffee and dulche de leche ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and a lot of candies. The most fun that can be had on a plate. Celebrating summer? Come on down!
Bilo Centre Building, Bilo Junction, Rehovot