Couple’s Therapy

“As I sat there and listened to Alon’s battle stories, Amit arrived with a bottle of the house wine, a Luis Felipe Cabernet Sauvignon from far-off Chile…” Shay Vaknin and pal stopped by at Freud restaurant-bar in Haifa for some enjoyable couple’s therapy (in the most macho sense of the word)

As a true patriot, I have nothing but support for my friends who still put their lives on hold for a month and go off with the army reserves, sporting fatigues, and bonding with their fellow man. But the thing is… army food is… not that great. So in order to show some appreciation to my somewhat-overgrown friend and to help him regain his beer-belly, we went out to a meal for two at Freud restaurant-bar in Haifa.

Freud Meat & Bar is a restaurant-bar located in the Castra Mall of Haifa. It offers gourmet meat dishes at affordable prices, a large wine list – a large portion of which offers products from the Alexander Winery, and an alcohol selection which would be presented proudly in any high-end Tel Aviv bar. This selection includes, among other things, Glenfiddich aged 18 years, Laphroaig aged 10 years, Chivas Regal Royal Salute aged 21 years, and a range of Johnnie Walker Scotches, from the 12 year old Black Label to the Blue Label, aged 30 just like my girlfriend who stayed home that night.

Amit, our waiter for the evening, greeted us warmly and led us to our already set table. As I sat there and listened to Alon’s battle stories, Amit arrived with a bottle of the house wine, a Luis Felipe Cabernet Sauvignon from far-off Chile. Amit poured a small amount into one of the glasses and stood still like one of the guards at Buckingham Palace, awaiting our verdict. After a sip, we nodded approvingly and Amit filled the glasses and placed the bottle on the table so it faced us – professional to the last detail. All the waiting staff at Freud’s go through a wine specialty course once every few months.

Shortly after, our first courses arrived: the house focaccia, elongated bread baked fresh and spread golden with olive oil, served with garlic confit in balsamic, olive oil, and herbs; a generous dish of panko-encrusted fried cauliflower, served with dips – chili to which Alon takes a liking and barbeque which I quite enjoy; finally, carpaccio, seasoned with balsamic and garnished with parmesan. Because of my kosher strictness, I gently pushed this plate over to Alon’s side of the table from which he forked it into his mouth and washed it down with wine, as befitting any good sailor. I was served a parmesan-free version of the carpaccio, and before Alon could say “officer on deck!” I made it disappear with Harry Houdini speed.

After the first courses, we could sit back, relax, and chat with Chef Oren Caesari, while listening to good music and sipping fine wine. Oren has worked at Freud’s since it opened, designed the entire menu himself, aiming to please ever palate, while not catering to the lowest common denominator, as we would soon clearly find out. The restaurant offers daily specials, products of Oren’s spontaneous brain and based on the day’s available ingredients. Specials are offered for different budgets.

After a short talk, we were hungry again. We were served a wiener schnitzel, extra thin, fried and juicy, as well as lamb spareribs, the choice part of the lamb, grilled and served with chili. Being the kind of guy that I am, I broke off a piece and turned to Alon, who was already intently waiting for a bite. Also served were home fries – steamed potato wedges, pan-tossed in chili and oven-baked yam sprinkled with coarse salt, split and cooked with olive oil and herbs.

At this point we were about to surrender, so full and satisfied with Freud’s food, and yet… we still decided to charge into one final battle with… a hamburger. In this corner, weighing a combined 150 kilograms, the challengers, Shay and Alon. In the other corner, weighing 300 grams, fried on both sides, the reigning champion… the uh… hamburger. Together, we managed to vanquish our worthy opponent, while still managing to finish off the bottle of cabernet. To help us out, the bartender sent over some homemade Limoncello prepared from fresh lemon juice, alcohol, and sugar – a refreshing and energizing mix.