Market to mouthfulby Tallie Lieberman | 21.02.17
On any given evening, Tel Avivians in pursuit of some vibrant but profoundly soothing cooking can be seen swarming the southeast corner of Dizengoff Square, currently undergoing a major facelift. They are lining up to grab a coveted table or bar stool at La Shuk, a bustling market-to-mouthful eatery.
The brainchild of a team of bartenders and managers turned restaurateurs, La Shuk is a heady journey through Israel’s winter market. Sink into your niche in front of the open kitchen, a welcome diversion for the perpetually curious, take a swig of your basil-infused gin and tonic and let the the Middle Eastern beats waft over you.
While your amiable bartender does the talking, indulge in the tomato and artichoke salad, a samba of fresh tomatoes and artichokes, crunchy almonds, zesty olives, capers and smoky feta cheese, and dig into the sea-bream ceviche— made interesting by slivered candied dates, earthy chickpeas and a drizzle of labaneh.
Vegetables often play a starring role in the meticulous yet unpretentious food dished up at La Shuk, however there’s no skipping the show-stopping Middle Eastern beef tartar, bursting with chili peppers, cilantro and pickled lemons and served with a soft-boiled egg on a silken bed of mustard aioli.
Egalitarian with no holds barred, La Shuk is manned by a crew of low-key, down-to-earth cooks inspired not by trends or avant-garde techniques but by nature—the catch of the day, farm-fresh ingredients, locally-sourced produce.
Take the seafood me’orav (“mix”), a seaside Tel Aviv twist on the iconic chicken innards and lamb Jerusalem dish—and packed with local seafood, spicy Moroccan harissa paste, grilled onions, chickpeas and airy tahini. The savory black risotto, too, afforded texture by local pistachios and cut by homemade pickled lemons, may seem simple at first spoonful; but it is precisely the stuff great meals are made of.
As the music picks up, and you become familiar with your neighbor, and your neighbor’s neighbor, you may feel you’ve had one too many basil gins, but that shouldn’t stop you from scraping the sides of your rosewater malabi pudding bowl clean or from wandering next door to La Shuk’s cozy new offshoot, A La Bar, for a North African digestif.
You aren’t here to impress anyone.
La Shuk, Dizengoff St. 92. 03.603.3117. Read more about La Shuk in the Telavivian City Guide.
Photos by Ofri Lahovizer for O’LALA.