Down the Rabbit Hole, Into Messaby Tallie Lieberman | 24.12.17
Spend an evening at Chef Aviv Moshe’s Messa, a Tel Aviv landmark on Haarba’a Street that dispenses with logic and venerates fantasy in the service of Mediterranean haute cuisine.
The entrance to the shiny, black jewel of reflective glass is well hidden, but once identified, opens to reveal an all white, candle-lit room decorated with slabs of milky marble, oversized chairs and lamps and billowy curtains that afford a sense of constant, at times disorienting, movement.
Efforts to “make sense” of this eccentric but sleek eatery ought to be checked at the vanishing door. Patrons, a well-heeled crowd, slip willingly down the Messa rabbit hole into a dreamlike fine dining experience that begs repeating.
Moshe is an unadulterated epicurean, and the menu at Messa reflects his taste for the rare, the rich and the extravagant: The refreshing endive salad is topped with a luxuriant Bavarian blu fondue and thin slices of smoky bresaola; the crab gnocchi sits awash a delectable crab bisque and is topped with quail yolk; the Thai tuna sashimi with wasabi sorbet is fresh and tantalizingly spicy; the tender fillet mignon in chestnut stock with luscious potato cream is quite possibly the best cut of meat in Israel, and the caramelized salmon with coconut mousse melts, flake by perfect flake, in your mouth.
Because the service at Messa manages to be warm without being bothersome, couples, swallowed by the massive sofas and savoring a slice of cheesecake with white chocolate fondue or semifreddo brulee with caramelized bananas, will often hole up here for an entire evening. And why would they not? The quintessential escape from the grit of downtown Tel Aviv, Messa, at turns magical, at turns bewildering, serves up a lavish culinary experience that will surely have you take leave of your senses. The question is: Would you really miss them?
Messa, 19 Haarba’a Street 19. 03.685.6859. Read more about Messa in the Telavivian City Guide.
Photos by Amit Zantkeren.