The R2M Group -- parent company of CoffeeBar, La Brasserie M&R and Delicatessen, among others -- comprises some of the most popular restaurants in Tel Aviv. So it is only natural that when pioneering restaurateurs Ruti and Mati Broudo branched out into the hotel business, a restaurant would be at the core of the establishment -- and indeed, be indistinguishable by name.
As befits one of the city’s finest boutique hotels, the elegant dining areas -- which meander through the lobby -- features plus leather banquettes and starched white linen tablecloths. The menu is printed anew daily, for lunch and dinner.
According to our knowledgeable and friendly waiter, who clearly enjoys explaining the restaurant to newcomers, the cuisine is French-Asian fusion, drawing on Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese and Chinese influences. The menu is not divided into the usual starter and main course categories, but rather set out in groupings of 3-5 dishes, with the sections progressing in size from small to medium to large.
Hotel Montefiore offers a variety of specialty cocktails, which by and large are original interpretations of classics. Twelve of them are listed on the menu, but the wait staff will also tell you about unlisted seasonal drinks. One in the former category is the Dark and Stormy -- dark rum, ginger beer, bitters and lime -- a refreshing drink that gets its kick as much from the ginger as the alcohol.
The Poire Rouge, meanwhile, was described only verbally. This blend of vodka, cranberry juice and guava juice was garnished with slice of fresh pear --- which is the last vestige of the ingredient that gave the cocktail its name (formerly the drink was made with pear vodka). Regardless, it was a fruity beverage ideal for summer weather.
In keeping with the season, Hotel Montefiore is also featuring domestic and imported rosé wines, served chilled. The food menu as well has some dishes introduced just this summer.
As we sipped our drinks, breadsticks were served. Resembling something between grissini and baguettes, this product of Bakery, another R2M establishment, were at first literally too hot to handle; once they cooled off, however, they were delicious with the accompanying mound of soft European butter, seasoned with a sprinkling of sea salt. It is all too easy to fill up on these, especially since the waiters will be happy to bring seconds.
Perusing the menu, we observed that most groupings reflect not only the size of the dish but also the type -- such as raw fish, vegetarian, pasta, and cooked fish -- while others are -- like salads and poultry -- are interspersed among other categories as they progress in size.
As a small plate, our first course was chosen from four dishes consisting exclusively of vegetables: assorted mushrooms on a bed of fresh corn polenta. Tiny shards of kernels of fresh corn imparted not only a mildly coarse texture, but also an extra boost of flavor.
Another distinctive corn preparation made its appearance in one of the three pasta dishes: tortellini with Blue Stilton and roasted figs. The combination of delicate pasta, savory cheese and sweet fruit in a subtle corn sauce represented an intriguing -- and delicious -- interplay of flavors.
One of the larger salads on the menu was the “glory morning” and steak salad -- shaved slices of medium-rare sirloin layered among morning glory leaves, string beans, celery and radish, in a zesty ginger vinaigrette. This was the best steak salad I have had in years.
As a main course, we chose the pork chop with Manchego cheese and nectarine. It is rare to find a pork chop on the menu of a fine dining restaurant in this country, so the opportunity was too good to pass up. The succulent chop stuffed with melted cheese proved to be a rewarding choice.
The desserts at Hotel Montefiore are as creative as the rest of the menu. One of the restaurant’s signature desserts is the limoncelli, described to us as the house interpretation of key lime pie (NIS 38). Consisting of a tall goblet of lemon chiffon piled atop butterscotch cookies, this fluffy citrus confection was a scrumptious palate cleanser.
Montefiore Street 36, Tel Aviv
Tel. (03) 564-6100
Photos Silvia Golan