“So there we were, seven dishes under our belts, with one small problem. A dessert makes eight. So, do we order two desserts for the sake of the uneven theme? I know, you’re thinking ‘of course they ordered two desserts…’” Rachel Wagner discovers the joy of sharing at E-Zugi, a stylish concept restaurant in Tel Aviv.
Located in the newly renovated and undeniably posh Leonardo Hotel, E-Zugi (translating to ‘Uneven’ number) continues the hotel’s chic black lines. Passing through the long narrow hallway on the way to the large open-concept rectangular room, one is handed a disposable menu with boxes to be ticked off next to selected dishes. More boisterous Dim Sum than elegant evening dining, you say? Actually, the progressive menu concept is utterly in keeping with the overall modernity.
Idan and I glanced at the dish selection, as well as going over the ‘uneven’ concept: dishes are small to medium in size and are intended for sharing amongst diners. All dishes are the same price (NIS 39) including desserts, and it is recommended that at table of two order 5-7 dishes, though a greater of fewer number is acceptable, as is veering from the uneven concept. To accompany the various courses, a diverse selection of six Israeli wines is available by the glass at NIS 33.
Reviewing the list of dishes, we notice a surprisingly ample selection of meat dishes. ‘Aha! E-Zugi is kosher’ I cry. ‘Huh, you’re right, it is. I never would have noticed…’ responds Idan. Indeed, we never would have noticed, save for our delayed reaction to the dairy, seafood and pork free selection of dishes.
It was high time to make some choices and see what this 6-month young kitchen had to offer. We stared with a refined take on traditional ‘memulaim’ (meat and rice filled vegetables.) Idan immediately noticed the abundance of meat, as compared to the usual rice heavy home-style restaurant version, as well as the delicate flavouring: ‘not as sweet and heavy as the ones near the office.’ Next was a dish of my choosing, the grouper cigar. Another play on traditional Moroccan cooking, the cigar, served upright in a glass with a piquant dipping sauce, was a far cry from the usual mashed potato surprise with its non-greasy wrapper and flavourful fish filling. Completing the ‘appetizer’ trio was the goose liver, perfectly seared and served with a charming and tasty muffin shaped brioche.
From this point, the dishes, though still modest in size as compared to a usual restaurant main course, took on a definitively main course style, featuring meat or fish with a starch or legume accompaniment.
First was the super succulent and tender panko coated sea bream filet in saki sauce with mashed potatoes in coconut cream. Dish number five (you’ve been keeping count, right?) was a daily special that may or may not be given a full time gig. We voted that the smoked sirloin become a regular player. Aside from the lightly smoky and surprisingly tender sirloin, the lentil and tomato accompaniment was a deliciously perfect example of modern Israeli-Mediterranean cooking.
The last two dishes consisted of lamb ribs in honey marinade with mashed potatoes and a pepper salad and pistachio crusted sirloin with home fries. Idan and I are devoted lamb lovers, but at this point in the meal (dish number 6) the rich strong-flavoured lamb was a bit too much for me and I gave Idan free reign. The pistachio sirloin, on the other hand, was lean enough to still be appealing, with the red wine sauce keeping me coming back for more.
So there we were, seven dishes under our belts, with one small problem. A dessert makes eight. So, do we order two desserts for the sake of the uneven theme? I know, you’re thinking ‘of course they ordered two desserts.’ Haha! We did not. We ordered a single serving of red fruit soup with coconut sorbet and cream puffs for a total of eight dishes and no one objected, least of all my stomach, pleased that I’d finally made a decision in keeping with its wishes.
Highly recommended for special occasions, family celebrations or romantic dinners, E-Zugi also offers unique business meals and unlimited quantity event menus.
E-Zugi17 Habarzel St., Ramat Hachayal, Tel AvivTel: 03-5110075