May 4, 2011

Shnitzel in the City

By: Chelsea Truesdell

Café Noir is a warm, upscale French Bistro offering a rich menu full of seafood and meat dishes. When I asked a friend, “Where can I find the best schnitzel in the city?” she didn’t even hesitate and gave me the address of Café Noir. Although the Tel Aviv restaurant offers more than the classic chicken dish, the Café is known for their famous schnitzels- chicken breast, pork, and milk-fed veal.

When you walk into Café Noir, you instantly feel welcomed. The low lighting creates a sense of warmth that brings you into the café. Jazz music tickles your ears as you relax in the dim, candle lit restaurant. The décor is clean and smart, letting you focus on the beautiful food served. If you’re looking for a romantic date restaurant in Tel Aviv, this is your place.
The menu is filled with appetizers, salads, and fish and meat selections. After much deliberation, my family and I ordered the ‘charred aborigine’ as an appetizer, the renowned ‘chicken schnitzel’ and the ‘gnocchi with ricotta and parmesan.’ Although they seemed like classic and simple dishes, we were surprised to indulge in complex and delectable flavors.

The charred eggplant was served on a bed of arugula, topped with cherry tomatoes, and creamy goat cheese drizzled with olive oil. The eggplant itself was infused with a smoky grilled taste from being charred which created a subtle yet distinct flavor. When you bit into the eggplant, it almost melted in your mouth like butter, giving it the feeling of baba ganoush. The heat from the eggplant melted the goat cheese on top which gave the entire dish a light creamy texture. It was this delicate, zesty taste, teasing our palette and leaving us wanting more.
After our appetizer, we were excited for what was to come. I truly support the statement that Café Noir holds the title for best chicken schnitzel in Tel Aviv. I never knew breaded chicken could taste so good! The schnitzel came out with light and buttery mashed potatoes and a small green salad. The juxtaposition of the thick crispy breaded crust on the outside of the moist and tender chicken made my mouth do back-flips. Usually I slather my schnitzel down with catsup, but the flavor of the unembellished schnitzel was enough to satisfy my taste buds.

I was still licking my plate as the gnocchi dish arrived. Usually when I order Italian-style food in Tel Aviv restaurants, I’m ready to indulge in a heavy and rich dish and be full for days. I was pleasantly surprised to see the gnocchi dish not slathered in cream or butter, but instead cooked in a light white wine sauce.
The gnocchi itself was like eating light pillows of love, each one fluffier than the next. Fresh, diced mushrooms accented the dish and although I usually don’t care for them, I rather quite enjoyed them in this dish. Ricotta and parmesan cheeses were sprinkled on top, leaving a pleasant salty and smooth finish.

Because we were so pleased with everything that we ordered, we had to sample some dessert. We ordered the ‘baked banana tart’ and the ‘Schwartz chocolate mousse,’ and neither one let us down. The baked banana tart came out warm in a pool of light caramel sauce and fresh cold ice-cream. The baked tart crust tasted almost like a waffle, with a crisp texture on the outside and a soft and butter taste on the inside. Since the bananas were more like plantains than overly-ripe bananas, it didn’t give the dish an overwhelming sweet taste.
If you’re a chocolate lover, the Schwartz chocolate mousse is just for you. The dish is like a chocolate tiramisu, with biscotti stuck in the middle and drenched with espresso. The chocolate mousse was perfectly whipped and topped with a wafer-thin chocolate cookie on top.
Well worth the price, Café Noir is the perfect Tel Aviv restaurant to spoil your taste buds. Each dish is thoughtfully prepared, with distinct flavors and exciting textures. If the romantic French design doesn’t make you fall in love, the chicken schnitzel will.

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