Anything but a caféby Tallie Lieberman | 26.01.17
Charming, tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, has long been home to some of the best artisanal coffee shops in the city. Its restaurants, however, mostly chain franchises, have left something to be desired.
Café Europa, Chef Sharon Cohen’s eclectic Mediterranean gastropub, is at the forefront of a select few eateries along the boulevard that are currently generating electrifying buzz. However you describe the inventive small plates dished up at Café Europa in the most eccentric fashion, you’ll never be bored or disappointed at this party-saloon-bistro that is anything but a café
Leave your bearings at the door and grab a stool at the bar beneath the towering, glowing palm tree or a seat outside underneath the stars. Once your charismatic waitress “takes your order”—aka, tailors a menu just for you—sit back and take in the sparkling ambiance of a truly gourmet street party.
A gulp or two of your smooth cucumber-lemon Green Gin, and you will inevitably meet with some piping-hot homemade focaccia served with fresh tomatoes and salt crystals. Word to the wise: Although it will feel like torture, save a few scraps to lap up the garlicky, citrusy vat of prawns and calamari rings that will soon bubble before you. You won’t want to leave a drop of the tart and savory sauce behind.
With the music pumping and the alcohol coursing through you, you will be forgiven for letting down your hair. But the next few courses will light into you. Chef Cohen’s sashimi salad, a mélange of raw tuna and salmon slices, cauliflower pickles, spicy cashews and crunchy greens tossed in a spicy yuzu sauce, is nothing short of a work of genius you will rave about with colleagues over store-bought salads for weeks to come. Finally, the tartar burger—a coarsely chopped patty of raw beef, mustard, pickles and seasonings lobbed into fresh hamburger bun—will make you question your lifelong faith in well-done beef of all stripes and streaks.
Before long, Café Europa will be filled to capacity, and you will feel full but elated. A parting shot of your choice will surely see you dancing home, all along the boulevard.
9 Rothschild Boulevard
Photo credit: AvirA