Food

Botanika

by Tallie Lieberman | 27.10.16

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New-wave Nordic cooking, in all its brining, curing and fermenting glory, has washed up on Tel Aviv’s shores in the pearl of a cocktail bar—Botanika. This smart Scandinavian transplant, tucked away in Ultra, Tomer Poleg and Nick Sitbon’s new boutique hotel on Hayarkon Street, has a stripped-back elegance that reflects a commitment to quality over quantity. Chef Yossi Asraf’s small but perfectly-formed menu, featuring just nine immaculately executed dishes (including dessert), makes a compelling case for ‘less is more’.

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“If you are going to use only a few select ingredients, you had better be sure they are the finest available anywhere”, Niso Mugrabi, the bar manager explains over a Nordic No. 5, a frosty, citrusy serving of pure Aquavit #1, limoncello, lime, honey and cardamom.

Indeed, the dishes that seem to suddenly manifest themselves clean out of the Nordic grey and woodsy, caramel brown of the dimly-lit bar are a resounding testament to Botanika’s exacting creative team. These foodies and mixologists moonlight as aspiring botanists, growing their own herbs to star in each carefully-crafted bite, and as artisanal ice carvers, slicing perfectly symmetrical blocks of crystal-clear ice for the bar’s signature drinks.

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However remarkable the cocktails, the indisputable star of Botanika is the spectacular seafood. The crab flower broth is so intoxicatingly frothy, smooth and smoky, only the most deeply-entrenched sense of decorum may—or may not—prevent you from picking up the bowl and licking it with abandon.

The Mediterranean fish, served on a bed of brown butter foam and adorned with fresh herbs, is as fresh, juicy and satisfying as a steak (and, under the cloak of darkness, may be mistaken as such). The crusty, open-faced smoked salmon sandwich, a toasted log of homemade bread laden with house-cured salmon, sharp white horseradish, fresh ricotta and lemon thyme, packs a zingy, salty punch.

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“We are extremely committed to detail,” says Jay Araneta, head bartender, serving another round of Negroni Fragarias, quenching Tanqueray, vermouth rosso, Aperol and strawberry bitters,  ahead of the finale: a flower-infused bittersweet chocolate mousse—Nordic noir at its most delectable.

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Botanika, 78 Hayarkon Street, (03)9330339.
 www.botanikatlv.com | Facebook | Instagram: @botanikatlv
Read more about Botanika in the Telavivian City Guide.

Photo credit Dana Caspi.

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