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Norma Jean
Norma Jean Ellen Hockley
"I am in love: Crème Brule with chocolate, amazing beers and a whiskey selection that would melt any lover’s heart. What’s not to like," Ellen Hockley asks after her visit to Norma Jean in south Tel Aviv?
This, of course, is my response to my latest adventure on the Tel Aviv bar scene, which took me all the way to Norma Jean’s in Florentine. On a cozy little spot tucked away on an unassuming corner you will find a delightful dining and drinking experience. My dining companion and I sat at the bar with full visibility of an extraordinary number rare of Taps and a wall covered in whiskey bottles.

To start off we were greeted by a beer tasting, a house specialty, offering a selection of five different beers from England, Belgium and The Czech Republic. The flavors and types of beer within this preview ranged from a Lager, to a Dark Ale, to a Wheat and even a Porter. Of course there were many other beers if none of the above strike your fancy. While slowly enjoying our beers, the food began to arrive. Starting with a Beef Carpaccio marinated in Jim Beam and Roasted Eggplant in Tehini; both dishes were excellent. The Tehini sauce on the eggplant was like nothing I have ever tasted before; as it turns out it is a unique recipe, in that it is blended with Date syrup and oregano. The Carpaccio was flavorful and a great way to start our evening.

Having finished both the beer and our starters, it was time for more. Thankfully we came hungry and thirsty because I would not have wanted to miss what came next. The mains and more beer! The bartender a friendly young woman with a great sense of humor who will help you find what you are looking for even if you are not quite sure what it is just yet. She has an impeccable sense for beers and was patient as we both were not sure what our next taste might be. I chose a Chimay Blanche, a white beer with a hoppy dry flavor. I also learned an interesting fact: it turns out there are only 200 taps in the world that sell Chimay making us quite lucky to be trying in Tel Aviv.

While slowly nursing our beers our main dishes arrived: Irish Sausages with sauerkraut cooked in beer and a hamburger covered in a cream and mushroom sauce. Both of these dishes were outstanding. The flavor of the sausage was aromatic and delicious, mixing beautifully with my beer. The hamburger was perfect; honestly, finding a good burger in Tel Aviv can be a struggle, but Norma Jean’s has it down. It was tender and flavorful and the cream sauce complimented it in a way I would have never expected.

By this point we were beginning to feel the beer, as the majority of the ones we were drinking had an unusually high alcohol content, but we powered on. We had to try one last beer and enjoying the pleasure of dessert. Our final beer was a St. Bernardus abt, with 10% alcohol content; it is a rich dark ivory beer with a fruity flavor and I loved it. It was at this point that an already perfect evening got even better: a Crème Brule appeared in front of us. I have to say it was a very good Crème Brule, with a perfectly crisp sugar crust and a simple, but wonderful, taste; it melted in my mouth.

We had a wonderful evening and would go back any night of the week. With an older mellower crowd and great music, it is a great place to sit and enjoy phenomenal food and beer with excellent service. One important little fact, there is actually no smoking in the bar, but the alley outside is inviting for many guests.

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