Al HaMayim

"The concept of 'Al HaMayim' is to serve fresh fish: whatever the fisherman pulled into his net today." Efrat Rosen sealed last summer season with her partner at the bar-restaurant Al HaMayim on the seashore of Herziliah.

I planned a romantic dinner for us to close the summer with. I wore a short summer dress, I bought my love a small present and I reserved a table for us at the bar-restaurant Al HaMayim ("on the water") on the seashore in Herziliya. When we arrived, even I was surprised. Our table was at the edge of the balcony looking out over the sea just steps from its edge. If we were quiet for a moment we could hear the rustle of the waves. The evening was just falling and the sky was already a variety of deep oranges.

The restaurant itself offered an elegant compliment: expensive white furniture and fine white tablecloths on the tables. I could not have chosen better nor more romantic. Al HaMayim was already completely full with many tourists joining the party. We were delighted to hear a variety of languages and imagine ourselves not in Israel but rather on vacation somewhere enjoying our freedom!

Within moments our server brought us some munchies to start with: spiced olives, bread sticks, fresh warm bread and a mayonnaise-mustard dip. We took our time, enjoying the Latin music quietly filling the background, and enjoying the pleasant atmosphere with our summery cocktails: a pomegranate margarita and a lemon and crushed mint mojito. Enjoying our delicious drinks and watching the last beach-goers leaving the water for the evening, we settled into the menu and reviewed the appetizers at Al HaMayim.

We chose three dishes, both because we wanted to pamper ourselves and because it was hard to decide which to try from the extensive variety on the menu. Beautiful dishes arrived to our table: eggplant terrine, corvina sea fish ceviche and goose breast. The eggplant terrine looks like an artistic tower: colorful blackened strips of eggplant wrapped among strips of reddish roasted peppers between generous layers of flavorful goat cheese. The ceviche was delicate and tasty, despite the fact that I am not the biggest fan of raw fishes. The cubes of fish were spiced and lightly pickled in olive oil and topped with a variety of cubes for fresh avocado and sweet pineapple. We both felt that the goose breast was the major thrill of this course: smooth like butter combined with homemade date confiture and served with toasts. My love agreed that we were enjoying this course and we delighted in its tastiness.

Choosing entrées at Al HaMayim is also a challenge. I gave up immediately and told my partner that he would have to choose for us both. He could not decide and called our server to tell us about the specials, explaining that the concept of Al HaMayim is to serve fresh fish based on what the fisherman pulled into his net today. We ordered a corvina filet in roasted garlic sauce and red snapper in citrus cream sauce on a bed of rice noodles with sautéed vegetables wrapped with steamed asparagus.

Our server also told us of some special wines from the Castel winery and recommended, especially with our meal, a rosé that was light, though not too light, somewhere between a light red and a biting white. A few breaths later, our entrées arrived. Both looked very impressive: the fish were seared on the outside and both meaty and juicy on the inside. I thought the corvina was the better and my partner preferred the snapper so we divide the platters as such, tasting from each other a bit as well. Between the two we also enjoyed a refreshing coconut sorbet.

At this point, we were curious about the desserts. I trust my lover to choose two exotic desserts for us: grill-seared pineapple in honey syrup with coconut sorbet and almond twills with vanilla ice cream in toffee sauce served on a bed of caramelized almonds. Wow! I was captured completely! Both dishes - especially the simpler one - were spectacular. The vanilla ice cream was an added bonus.

We had a perfect evening at Al HaMayim. We could not have asked for more. We left just a bit more satisfied than when we had entered, enjoying the company, the sea and our special little country as well. These things can be found nowhere else!