The "White Tent" at the Tel Aviv Port offers a delightful and delicious combination of fresh seafood, masses of salads and hummous and not too little fine drink. Lindsay Citerman samples some of their offerings and enjoys a feast!
HaSukah HaLevanah (The White Tent) is a classic Jaffa establishment, turned central Tel Aviv Port highlight. After 15 years in Jaffa, the restaurant moved north to the port and has occupied its central location right on the water (near the only place I know in the port at all, Ace Hardware) with a large modern white-and-wood dining room and for the right weather, a perfect seaside patio. They also have large screen TV’s for sporting events and a fantastically friendly staff.
All meals at HaSukah start with a selection of ten salads and a plate of hummous, roasted eggplant with tehini, fish meatballs and a super fresh vegetable salad (if you order an entrée this is all included in the price). After sitting for just a few moments, our table was suddenly overflowing with a plethora of flavors and colors! The hummous was actually fantastic, clearly homemade and Jaffa-style delicious. The other salads were a variety of some of the usual favorites involving pickled lemons, spicy peppers, olives, tzaziki, beet salad, etc. Our favorite was definitely the eggplant salad with tomatoes, cilantro, red onion and a sweet and sour spicy flavor. Served with homemade pita only, either with or without za’atar, the salad course with a bottle of wine would certainly have been enough.
But our delightful hosts had no intention of stopping here and provided us with a sampling of some of their wonderful appetizers. One of the highlights for me was a roasted eggplant, clearly prepared on an open fire, served with Bulgarian cheese. The combination of smoky and salty worked well on the palate! A highlight for my dinner date was the stuffed mushrooms: giant champignons stuffed with Roquefort cheese and nuts. A salty, cheesy dish that, although quite rich, was not heavy on the stomach.
After this mass of food, again we could not imagine more… and yet the Tent hosts were far from done with us. Their specialty is seafood and they know what they are doing! We had a small platter sampling of a number of their dishes. My date enjoyed a steaming cauldron of seafood served in a seafood broth: crab, mussels, shrimp and calamari with butter, garlic, rosemary, ginger and curry. The curry was certainly dominant in the flavors but each creature retained its own texture, giving this dish a kick. In addition, we tasted a few of the non-trafe specialties. Two different types of fried small fish - cod and zaragosa - each with its own fishy flavor, a light breading and a flash frying to make it perfectly crunchy. We also enjoyed grilled sea bream and, the highlight, stuffed corvina fish. The sea bream was perfectly grilled and flavor-filled with sea salt and a touch of lemon. The corvina was wrapped around a mix of dried tomatoes and nuts; tender fish wrapped around tomatoes is right on point as far as I am concerned.
Thus ended our meal, though we still found ourselves tasting two of the Sukah’s delicious desserts to enjoy with our tea and cognac: crème brulée (perfectly seared on top!) and a mixed-nuts pie. Although we were far from finishing them, both were tasty and sealed our meal just right. The pie was also served on a very artsy funky plate.
Overall, HaSukah HaLevanah is a fantastic restaurant to settle in for a feast and enjoy a mass of salads, fish and drink! If a bit fancy for its own good, the location justifies the elegance of the restaurant and the food and drink