Mifgash HaSteak

"The surprise of the night was the carpaccio, splashed with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds…". Advah Gan-Stav headed off to the kosher Mifgash HaSteak restaurant in Herziliya expecting a standard steak, and got great design with top notch dishes instead.

Sipping the cocktail delivered by a smiling waiter upon my arrival at Herziliya's Mifgash HaSteak, I take a glance around the large dining room and understand that I had arrived bearing a few of prejudices about the place. I thought I was coming to a pleasant, run of the mill 'steakiah' – a simple family style grill. A place with a menu that offered a few types of skewered meat and steak, served up with the holy trinity of hummus – chips – salad, which, sincerely, I had been looking forward to. But to describe Mifgash HaSteak as a 'steakiah' would simply be incorrect, and even a bit insulting. The restaurant is designed with a high tech look, complete with dim ceiling light that illuminates each of the rectangular wooden tables, surrounded by black faux-leather chairs.

We decided to start the meal with a selection of salads, and pita hot from the taboon. There was avocado salad, Romanian eggplant salad, egg salad, eggplant in mayonnaise salad, fresh eggplant salad, tabouleh salad, spicy tomato and pepper salad, carrot salad, beetroot salad, white cabbage salad, a variety of pickled vegetables and tomato salsa. We chose to send the Turkish salad back with its sender without even tasting it due to our table's general dislike of it and because I've never quite been able to understand what on earth Turkish salad actually contains. My charming sister (and dining companion for the evening), a person far more level headed and reasonable than I, demonstrated restraint with the salads, thinking forward to the rest of the meal. I, on the other hand, espouse the immortal juvenile saying carpe diem, and proceeded to mercilessly wipe out each of the salad dishes.

The starters provided additional evidence that someone in the kitchen has that special touch. We ordered Majad's pita – a ground meat filled pita, roasted on the grill and accompanied by tehina and red cabbage salad. (Majad, by the way, has ruled over the grill at Tel Aviv's Mifgash HaSteak for about 25 years now.) The surprise of the night was the carpaccio, splashed with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Carpaccio without balsamic vinegar? Without parmesan? With pine nuts and pomegranate??? Yes, it seems so. The carpaccio was amazing and the combination of the meat, the pine nuts and the pomegranate was outstanding.

Israel, our charming waiter (who displayed such impressive professionalism that we were shocked to discover at the end of the meal that he'd only been working a week and half!), served the main courses. We ordered lamb chops and entrecote checkered with goose liver in a beef and fig gravy. The chops were excellent, the meat was tender and juicy and served with tasty mashed potatoes and grilled onion. The dish's one drawback, in my opinion, was size: three chops (however plump they may be) do not deliver a satisfying enough 'challenge'. The entrecote was excellent, as was the cut of goose liver resting upon it, and it was served with nice enough potatoes. At this point I'll remind you that this restaurant is kosher, a fact that didn't affect (surprisingly, I must admit) the quality of the meat. (I sincerely don't want to offend anyone, but for god's sake, how is meat meant to survive this torturous koshering process?) Israel explained to us that at Mifgash HaSteak they are very aware of the need to maintain high quality meat, and have found a way to do this even with kosher meat.

We ended the meal with a chocolate mousse sitting atop Bavarian cream, a dessert given the unfortunate and unappetizing name mifgashit ('little meeting'). Upon inquiry, I was told that one can't argue with nostalgia, and this legendary dessert had been named long before I started expressing my opinion on just about everything…the dessert was accompanied by an academic debate with Israel on the rooibos tea we were drinking. The agreement that ended the debate was that we had no clue what it was made of exactly, but that we all prefer