The Secrets of the Kitchen

“And so the journey of alcohol began – for me it was the Citrus Campari and for Eyal… the Collins Secrets. Both excellent, both quickly depleted…” Nadav Avidan searched for a good place to eat, a restaurant-bar with plenty of alcohol, and an atmosphere for celebrating a friend’s birthday. He found it: Lucas, restaurant and bar in Tel Aviv.

There are periods in my life in which the hectic daily schedule takes over, and instead of managing it, it manages me. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, ever since I returned to school, without benefiting from the strike as some of the other students have. So, as it turned out (and this was completely unintentional on my part), I missed the birthday of one of my friends, one for whom I would drive to Haifa in the middle of the night if he needed my help (just so you get the picture). Guilt-ridden, I spent two weeks figuring out how to make it up to him. There had to be alcohol and this means I had to select a place that was close to home so that neither of us would have to drive. There had to be great food because, even though Eyal isn’t an expert on food, I myself am something of a gourmet when it comes to tasting other people’s cooking. Therefore, my gift to him was to reveal to him the secrets of the fine kitchen. It had come time, at his advancing age, for him to discover that there are more flavors out there than ketchup and burnt food.

After some searching and consulting, I finally found a place – Lucas. I made 9pm reservations on a Wednesday. We had only just arrived (a 5 minute walk for those who live in central Tel Aviv, the restaurant is located the “Rova Lev HaIr” building on Mazej Street) and one look at the place made us want to check out the menu. There was something about the d?cor – on the one hand meticulous, elegant, and clean, and on the other hand comfy and unpretentious – that had us hooked even before we took our seats.

And so the journey of alcohol began – for me it was the Citrus Campari (Campari, vodka, red-grapefruit) and for Eyal… the Collins Secrets (Stoli, Citron vodka, berries). Both excellent, both quickly depleted, and both balancing the alcohol and mixers very well – no small matter for Eyal and I.

Shortly thereafter the first courses arrived: calamari a la palance (with legume salad, olive-oil, and yoghurt), as well as camembert filled with garlic confit and served with toast. Other than variations on the word “excellent,” I don’t have much to add about the food. Every bite takes you further into another world of flavors and aromas, and Eyal looked like he was well on his way to understanding that there is more to be found in the kitchen than French Fries.

In order to weaken his natural resistance to a gourmet-kitchen, we kicked-off a second round of alcohol – tropical caipirinha, and fig-Mojito. Both were terrific. The caipirinha was sweet, without too much alcohol, and a ‘feel-good’ drink, all around. The Mojito was a Mojito, but the addition of figs gave it that special Lucas touch.

Then came the entr?es – Largecote (400 gram entrecote steak, aged and grilled), butcher’s cut on the bone, served with baked root vegetables, fries (Eyal insisted), and Portobello confit. At this point I didn’t know what I wanted more – to eat it all right then and there and savor the delicious flavors; or ask for the food to be boxed, take it home, and eat one bite everyday for the rest of my life to be reminded on a daily basis that perfection exists.

I insisted Eyal have another drink, and after he consulted with Yossi, the funniest bartender in the Western Hemisphere, they selected a “French Breeze” (Benedictine, Absolut Mandarin, ginger ale, tonic, and orange juice). I had my share of it, myself, but it’s my treat as it is, right? Anyway… simply terrific stuff.

To sum up – Lucas is now officially our home restaurant. I haven’t met their match in the Tel Aviv area – neither in the quality of the alcohol nor in the food and its price. Oh, and Eyal learned a thing or two here. He promised to take his girlfriend to this place and impress her with his gourmet’s knowledge.

5 Mazeh, Tel Aviv