After my previous article included notes from a recent visit to a special vegan/vegetarian wine pairing meal, I was rather happy when I received the invitation to a tasting of the special “Butcher” menu at the Meat Ball restaurant in Rison Letzion. As a child I visited Rishon often and became quite fond of the city. It has plenty of character, a beach, plenty of shopping options and even a few decent eateries. As my colleague Ofer Plosner noted, while in most of the neighboring cities, residents tend to go out to Tel Aviv when going out for a drink or grabbing a bite to eat, Rishon has managed to create an eco-system that keeps their residents in town. Back to the Meat Ball; situated in the old Industrial area, Meat Ball, as you can probably guess form the name, focuses on a wide array of meat dishes as well as other culinary options. Rishon natives swear by their hamburger and I even met someone who came in especially for one of their salads. While the exterior may seem a bit cold and industrial, the décor is warm and homey, resembling an American diner with quasi-booths, seating options covered with a red fabric and wooden tables. We sampled a variety of starters, my favorites being the “Carpaccio Salad”, consisting of lightly cured slices of sirloin, arugula and rocket leaves with a generous dose of parmesan cheese. I also enjoyed the tempura chicken balls in chili sauce. Nothing fancy, but it really hit the spot.
It was time to move on to the main attraction – the “butcher menu”. Three large wooden butcher blocks were rolled out to our table, one baring a 2 Kilo (4.4 pounds) cut of prime sirloin, the second with a similar sized chunk of juicy entrecote and last to arrive was the low-fat melt in your mouth tenderloin. The concept is simple, diners can order their favorite cut in sizes of 1 kilo and up. The cut is then grilled and roasted to your liking and rolled out to the table for everyone to share and enjoy. These come with an assortment of side dishes and here I would suggest trying the garlic fried. Which are basically, regular French fries with plenty of garlic and good seasoning. Assuming that you are not on a date, these are well worth a try. Be warned, they can be addictive. If you are planning to go in the evening, would be good to call in advance and make a reservation as even on weekdays, the place is surprisingly full.
It is hard to write about grilled meats and not include at least one wine suggestion and here I would like to focus on Dalton’s recently launched Merlot, Reserve, 2010. After a two year “break” as the winery did not feel that the grapes from their Merlot vineyards, were of the desired quality, Dalton officially launched the Merlot Reserve 10. With an addition of 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a rather concentrated wine suggesting generous layered aromas and flavors (blackberries, young plums, dark chocolate, a touch of anise and a refreshing minty note came to mind) that linger on the palate. After restating the wine several hours after the bottle was open, it was even more enjoyable and after tasting the wine throughout the day, my feeling is that it would benefit from at least 1-2 additional years of cellaring.
Another enjoyable wine Dalton, Reserve, Shiraz, 2009 – traditionally, one of my favorite wines from the Dalton Winery, the Shiraz Reserve 09 is definitely up to par. Predominately Shiraz with literally a dash (2%) of Viognier grapes as well, a blending style that is rather popular in the Northern parts of France’s Rhone Valley that helps extenuate the color and aromatic profile of the wine. Dark, almost garnet in color, a bit firm when first poured but then opens in the glass, suggesting layered aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, black pepper and purple flowers. Good structure on the palate and a long and mouth-filling make this a very enjoyable vino. By the way, the wine recently received a gold medal in its category at the Challenge International Du Vin 2012 held in Boudreaux.
New Year’s Celebration at Montefiore 7
If you happen to be in the Tel Aviv area January 3-7 and crave some fresh seafood and bublly, stop by Montefiore 7 where Chef Emily Goldberg will be offering a special seafood menu with an assortment of sparkling vinos, ranging from lambrusco to Dom Perignon Champagne. Enjoy and Happy New Years!