My favorite dish in restaurants such as 99 Hayarkon is the dish of escapism. For an entire night, we got to feel like we were having dinner in a classic restaurant in Europe, where the guests are all dressed up, quiet music plays and sweet sounds of cutlery are heard. Not to mention the food. It is properly made of high quality produce, and served with a kosher bonus – quite a challenge for gourmet kitchen.
Take for example our 3 cold starters – red tuna tartar, beef fillet tartar, and grouper Carpaccio with citrus. By standards of freshness and minimal treatment, these 3 get the highest score and then some, with special twists of ginger and jalapeno peppers, saffron aioli and orange and grapefruit portions that provide color and freshness. An additional starter is fresh green asparagus, blanched just enough time to keep it crispy and serve with some soft mustard dressing.
But the jewel in the crown of starters is of course the foie gras – grilled goose liver with a port reduction and date puree, and a crispy coating of nuts that brings out the meat's softness. "People come here just for this dish", proudly says Pini, 99 Hayarkon's manager. And rightfully so, if you want our opinion.
As it should be in gourmet restaurants, the cutlery is replaced after every dish. Before we get to the main course, we have a change of wine too. 99 Hayarkon's wine list represents the best local produce – large wineries and small boutique ones. And after having a light young Sauvignon Blanc 2010 by Yatir winery, we continued with the house wine – Merlot by Binyamina winery, balanced with a long ending.
And on to our mains. The meat lover gets a seasonal dish of red lamb chops with artichoke and roasted vegetables, and I, a fish lover, get a juicy grouper fillet on a bed of potato puree and tiny Shimeji mushrooms on top. Both dishes are full of tastes.
Desserts are obviously lighter. One is a crispy blintze with a stuffing of apples with date syrup and cinnamon, served with home-made vanilla ice cream. The other is a chocolate surprise, which brings this game of texture and temperatures to another level. On a plate lies, innocently enough, a perfect chocolate scoop. Then the waiter pours hot chocolate sauce on it. The cover melts, and stuffing of pear sorbet and caramelized pears is wrapped in chocolate melt. That was good.
According to the clock, almost 3 hours have passed. That's just the way it is - when you get a chance to escape your day-to-day life, you don't want to go back to reality so fast.