The occasion: a late private Valentine's Day commemoration. Motive: a sophisticated way to celebrate our relationship, preferably not on the busiest night of the year. Location: Resto-Bistro Raphael. Means: precise dishes, fresh produce and fine service.
True, this is not the place for an intimate romantic getaway. The restaurant's space is filled with diners, and judging by the English and French talk around us, I am guessing many of them are tourists. For this reason, it is important to mention the attentive service that we look for in this kind of event. Throughout the entire night, the staff is available but not too burdening, precisely timing every step of our meal.
Our wine for tonight is Cabernet-Franc by Vitkin winery, fruity with a soft end, going well with the variety of dishes we are about to have. In fact, this is exactly when our indecision starts to kick in; it is a good thing we have leaven-raisin bread and focaccia to chew on. Should we go for the traditional dishes that have been on the menu for years, such as the Moroccan cigars filled with milk-fed veal offal and the couscous with lamb shoulder meat, or should we surprise ourselves with seasonal dishes? Do we take something of the fish variety or the steaks, which are made of fine meat portions, aged on the premises? Manager Tamara helps us choose: first fish dishes, then main meat courses. For me - a new, innovative dish of smoked roe, Iceberg lettuce hearts and potato, with Botrego on top – cured fish roe that give the dish a sea scent. He, on the other hand, is not such a big fan of highlighted fish tastes, and so goes for the fish kebab – 3 pieces made of grouper meat and toro tuna that gives them the required oiliness, in hot vegetable vinaigrette and cherry tomatoes.
If on our first courses the name of the game is combinations, our mains have one main player which is the meat. Each of us get a square wooden tray with a thick meat portion served next to marrowbone with a small silver spoon to spoon out its inside. His is a medium made entrecote steak, with a reduced sauce of meat stock and red wine, served with a bowl of mashed potatoes. For me it is a medium-rare made marbled fat cow sirloin, served with grilled root vegetables and fresh salad. Our wine glasses are now replaced by Red Malka beer, and we begin the pleasuring task of cutting the juicy portions, dark and crispy on the outside, red and chewy on the inside.
Desserts are also hard to choose from: on the one hand it is required that we finish such a heavy meal with a light fruity sorbet. On the other hand, how can we resist a description such as Italian cappuccino with espresso granite, Jivara chocolate and mascarpone, or Guanaja chocolate with crispy almonds and caramel ice cream? In the spirit of Valentine, we decide to follow our hearts and order both. And so on the one side of the table he cracks the chocolate coating of the mascarpone-espresso cream, I, on the other side, handle a candy made of almonds and chocolate layers, while in the middle, 3 bowls of sorbet – roseberry, guava and mango – provide us with refreshing pauses in-between bites. Come to think of it, this combination of sweet-bitter-sour is an adequate Valentine's Day illustration.