Gold Medal on a Plate

“Grilled lamb chop, dried mutton in cumin, and kebab on a cinnamon stick with raw tahini – an innovative interpretation of the Middle Eastern Cuisine…” Shifra Zach went to Olive Leaf restaurant in Tel Aviv, enjoyed dishes which have won the International Kremlin Culinary Cup, and left feeling like a winner, herself.

“Olive Leaf” is the kind of restaurant that gives you the feeling of fine dining before the food has even been served. The combination of an elegant chef restaurant, the location within the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv, and the French and English heard in the background, creates the charm of a visit to a far off place. It is for this reason that we usually reserve this restaurant for special occasions. This time, however, the celebrant was the restaurant itself who was had just won the gold medal in the “individual dish” category of the International Kremlin Culinary Cup competition. The 2 crowning dishes, the fruits of labor of Charlie Fedida, the Sheraton’s Sous-Chef, are recent additions to the menu. Since the menu itself boasts quite a few intriguing dishes, we decided that this time we won’t wait for the next family before visiting the restaurant.

The chef, as it turned out, was on the same page since, right away we were served a special appetizer: dried date stuffed with ground lamb, in chestnut sauce, over root-vegetable cream. This sample precisely reflects what we love about Olive Leaf: unconventional combinations of ingredients, surprising the taste buds, and giving you the feeling that you are enjoying foods which you have never tasted before.

The wide windows reveal a stormy sea, and some people walking and exercising on the beach. Inside, we enjoy 2 glasses of Tishbi wines, a merlot and a cabernet sauvignon. We are served 2 cups of soup: root-vegetable with some breast of duck making for an interesting twist; and mushroom cappuccino with a scent of truffle – a joy of rich concentrated mushroom flavor. The first courses arrived next: tuna trio – a variation of the banner dish of tuna carpaccio, accompanied by tuna tart and a tuna-filled roll; and a wonderful dish of mushroom ragu in a stock of bone marrow and Jerusalem-artichoke puree, all served within the bone itself.

And now – ta-da! – The 2 dishes which reaped the praises of the judges in the international competition. My dish, more French in nature, is a seared beef fillet with chopped truffles on a bed of green-pea puree, accompanied by a duet of duck breast and foie gras, seared in a pan with cassis and root-vegetables. This is a dish which unconventionally combines 3 types of meat, with shades of sweetness. The man across the table from me is served a dish which is an innovative interpretation of the Middle Eastern Cuisine - grilled lamb chop, dried mutton in cumin, and kebab on a cinnamon stick with raw tahini, squash glazed with brown sugar, and saut?ed vegetables. I really feel that this description speaks for itself.

Our desserts, 3 samples in each dish, were also polarized in nature. The first was from the sorbet family and the second from the world of chocolate. For some reason it is he, the chocolate fan, who is served the sorbets – coconut, berries, and mango. I, who am served a warm chocolate beverage, chocolate marquis, and nougat parfait, offer to switch with him, but after a mere single spoonful of his coconut sorbet, he decrees: this is mine!

Kremlin Cup or no Kremlin Cup, “Olive Leaf” gets a gold medal from us.

Olive Leaf
Sheraton Hotel, 115 HaYarkon, Tel Aviv