From the specially designed wood burning iron stove to the art exhibits surrounding the space, Container offers a delicious and unique gourmet dining experience. Lindsay Citerman explores this funky spot in one of the hangars of the renewed Jaffa Port...

For the last year or so on my daily run through the Jaffa port, I have noticed an unassuming collection of tables outside one of the hangars right on the water, clearly connected to some new restaurant. This week I discovered the treasures hiding just behind these simple tables at the restaurant Container.

The location is prime, of course, and the location boasts a unique concept: fine food combined with visual arts and music in a super funky space. The dining room has the feel of a giant factory with exposed scaffolding and yet feels also warm and comfortable. A giant bar is situated in the middle with an open kitchen just behind it proudly displaying the wood-burning stove specially designed by the chef/owner. All the dishes in the restaurant are prepared somewhere on this massive warm iron contraption and the smoky flavor truly permeates, in the most delicious way possible, each dish.

We began our lovely evening chatting with the chef and sipping our waiter’s recommendation, a glass of Avidan Blond de Noir 2007. The menu offers a variety of dishes, changing almost daily due to the availability in the market. Fresh seafood is clearly a feature and preparations are Mediterranean influenced by the French, Italian and Spanish kitchens. The dishes are designed to be shared offering smaller portions even for entrée-like foods. The atmosphere is one of a funky bar/lounge that just happens to have spectacular gourmet food roaming about.

After placing our order, delicious homemade bread arrived with butter, green olives and olive oil with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Soon thereafter our food arrived. I chose a seared tuna with a delicious salsa drizzled on top and roasted potatoes. The tuna could not have been done more perfectly: red and fresh on the inside, seared and spiced on the outside. Though I could not identify all the ingredients in the finely chopped salsa, there was clearly a hint of tomato and a bit of both sweet and sour that perfectly complimented the fish.

Orit ordered the calamari salad on black lentils with green onions, pine nuts and asparagus. Though I cannot speak to having tasted this dish, I can only report that Orit’s enjoyment was clear from both her delighted facial expressions and her consistent “oohs” and “aahs” with each bite. The calamari pieces were perfectly rolled and seared, which I am told is a witness to being properly cooked, with a delicious twist of lemon.

We shared another medium plate: homemade gnocchi with sage butter and forest mushrooms. The gnocchi were perfectly light and fluffy. The butter was infused with the sage yet not bitter, as sometimes happens with herb butters, and the mushrooms were pungent and each identifiable with an individual flavor. The generous shavings of Parmesan cheese perfectly rounded out this dish. This dish, as did the others, all had the perfect essence of smoky flavor lingering in it.

We finished our meal off with an exquisite dessert and a concert. Our server recommended a house special: patisserie cream in a bitter chocolate “wall” with forest berry sauce. Our initial response was that this was a work of sculpture art, stunningly presented with literally a thin chocolate “wall” holding in a plethora of delicious cream. The bitter sweet of the chocolate and the subtle sweet of the cream were in perfect balance with the slightly sour berry sauce. All in all this dessert, and I say this as one who does not usually love chocolate, was superb!

Ending the evening with a lively concert by the group “Nur,” featuring traditional and modern Arabic music with lots of incredible percussion could not have suited better. Container is fun, funky and delicious. I anxiously await my next visit to Container.