Last night, TasteTLV had the unique pleasure of attending a private tasting at Nir Zuk's newest venture, Ole Tzion, in Yaffo. The space of this new Tel Aviv restaurant actually used to be Shakuf, which unfortunately closed down a few months ago. Zuk quickly took over the beautiful, culinary expanse and in conjunction with Chef Natalie, created his own vision for the space. Other than decorative touches, not much has changed, which was a wise move by Zuk, because the open kitchen, presented like a stage, is what makes this space exciting, interesting, and stimulating. The bar seating that encircles the kitchen is lit, providing a effervescent background for each dish. Beautiful rocks fill the lining between the bar and fill the sinks and glass displays in the bathroom. The organic essence of rocks and branches is mixed with a sense of playful modernity, as one wall is painted pepto bismol pink and in the corner sits a birdcage fitting for Big Bird himself. The upstairs seating provides a birds eye view into the kitchen. The tables and bar are adorned with antique silverware embellished with red and gold prints, adding somewhat of a Jaffa spirit.
There is nothing life changing on the menu. Simple Arab/Israeli food found in any "home-style" restaurant. Zuk is actually not the main actor in the kitchen, he's more like the director. Zuk decided to give full culinary control to his protegee, Chef Natalie. This is her first attempt at creating and executing a menu, a daunting task for a any chef, especially one with no classical culinary training. Her modesty, perhaps her shyness is apparent in dishes as they lack any elements of bold spices or flavors and don't apply any complex technique. The main elements of the dishes, do maintain there natural flavors and this is especially good because you can taste the high quality of the proteins. If you try anything on the menu, make sure it's one of their beef dishes. It's one of the best quality beef I have had in this country, which is not a surprise, as Zuk get's most of his beef from his brother who has a private farm in the North. You could taste purity in the beef as flavors are both earthy and succulent. The simple dishes do come with a simple price tag, though, nothing on the menu costs more than 65NIS.
|Shrimp with tomato coulis|
|Zuk's famous kufte|
|Fennel and Tomato salad with yogurt sauce|
|Sea Bass and Chickpeas|