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Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Berlin, Germany
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Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv 20/1/2008

Catit is a restaurant that has caused excitement and garnered several appreciative reports in the Israeli press for its great service and fine cuisine. Here's what my companion and I thought of it.

We decided to go there to celebrate the publishing of my friends new book, a children's fantasy novel about the search for a lost gold pocket watch.

The restaurant occupies a beautiful early 20th century house on the edge of Neve Zedek and you can't help but be excited as your cab pulls up in front. On entering, you reach a reception area and bar, unoccupied by barman or guests., The greeting was warm, but formal and we were immediately shown to our table. Maybe because we were rather late, we were not given the option to sit at the bar first.

The restaurant is divided up into three dining rooms. The front, largest room seemed to have slightly more atmosphere. Our table was in the quieter middle room.

Immediately, we got the impression of a serious restaurant with subdued, rather sombre yet tasteful décor. Having been settled at our table, there was a rather lengthy lapse of attention on the part of the waitresses when an enquiry as to whether we would like a drink would have been highly appreciated. Eventually, my companion had to go in search of a waitress to bring us some water and the menus.

Having overcome that lapse, our waitress then explained the english and hebrew menu, substitutions and specials in a clear and knowledgeable manner. A basket of excellent breads, butter and a garlic dip appeared.

We decided to order two starters and two mains. We also ordered two glasses of wine from a short yet well-chosen wine list. I had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and my friend, though not a wine drinker chose a glass of Merlot, Shiraz from Australia, both were excellent and served at precisely the right temperature in nice large goblets.

Before our starters arrived an espresso cup of a delicious pea soup was offered as an amuse bouche. We shared the starters, a really sensational dish of char-grilled calamari stuffed with Turkish Spinach, Goats Cheese and Pine Nuts, This was accompanied by squid chips and cream. We both agreed that this was excellent and, as it turned out, became the star of the show.

Our other starter was Foie gras with pistachios on a crepe filled with cocoa beans, sugared citrus, raisins and tarragon. This we found to be over-sweet and rather cloying.

Next came a little ameratto sorbet with herbs, red wine reduction and figs. Our thoughts were that it was rather over-ambitious as a palette cleanser and perhaps the sorbet on its own would have sufficed, although neither of us are lovers of amaretto.

Along came the main courses, rather too rapidly in my opinion, as at this level I feel that the pacing of a meal is an art in itself. We had both ordered lamb dishes, mine a trio of lamb cuts with potato and white beans on a lamb stock reduction, hers slow-cooked lamb on 'schpezily', a kind of small pasta, root vegetables, porcini, artichokes and pumkin. Yes, too many ingredients. By this time, even though we had both starved ourselves that day in anticipation of this meal, our appetites were beginning to wane and neither of us could finish our main courses.

The desert menu was produced and both of us, though desert lovers, could not bring ourselves to order. A request for a scoop of the passion fruit sorbet that formed part of one of the deserts was, rather unkindly I felt, declined.

To sum things up, a beautiful house, rather too soberly decorated, a lack of any real atmosphere or excitement, correct service that took a while to get in gear, rather good food that tried to be too ambitious and ended up being over complex and rather heavy. We came away feeling bloated and $200 poorer with the conviction that Catit did not offer good value on any level. To a Londoner $200 is not that expensive. In Israeli terms it is a small fortune for a meal and diners have a right to be hyper critical. Would we return? Eh, probably not. This kitchen though aiming high, is badly let down front of house. I would like to see a true professional overseeing the dining rooms, some adjustments to the decor, then perhaps this restaurant could begin to reach its full potential.

Israel
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11. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Hi Carlos, I'm curious about your impression of Oro. I've never been, but am considering going there sometime next month for a party. How's the food?

Mumbai (Bombay...
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12. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Hi Indigogrrl,

Oro has good, stylish, modern decor. The staff is young, energetic and very friendly. When we went there (1.30pm on the 2nd of January, 2008), the place was packed. Ofcourse, we had made a reservation.

The food was reasonably good, not outstanding. There were 4 of us. Our hosts had Entrecot and Lamb, while my wife and myself had Chicken and Duck respectively. Pretty good, all said and done, Indigogrrl. With wine, 2 beers and a mint tea, we paid about 500 shekels with the tip. Not bad, at all, I must say.

Its a very good place for a party. Spacious. Good acoustics. I remember the music was rather good. And, the young staff really looks after you.

I give this place the thumbs up. However, I've been there just once. Rating ??? 7/10. Would be higher if the food was better. But, in almost every other matter, Oro rates very high.

Go for it, Indigogrrl !!

Shalom,

Carlos.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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for Tel Aviv
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13. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

200$ is indeed a lot for a meal

I simply don't go to such places. With so many restaurants in Tel Aviv, one can fined a good reasonably priced meal

Berlin, Germany
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14. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

I love well priced, good quality meals too. What are your favourite places?

mid-hudson valley...
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15. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Graham,

If you're still at the Dizengoff Suites, one of my favorite moderate "neighborhood-y" places is a quick walk away - Forelin at 10 Frishman. Even though in a tourist-y area, definitely not a "tourist place." Really interesting and well-prepared fish selections, nice atmosphere. We were there twice and enjoyed it very much both times.

Also loved Pasta Mia. Never thought I would be overly impressed with pasta/Italian food in Israel, but it was great. Have only been to the one on Wilson Street.

My only disclaimer is that I have a preference for unfussy food.

I would go back to both these places in a heartbeat.

Daphne

Cincinnati, Ohio
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for Israel
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16. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

GooCha is a reasonably priced and very good fish/seafood restaurant.

Douglas Duckett

israel
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for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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17. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

Catit is supposed to be a better place, one for fine dining, special occasion restaurants. So it is not Goocha or Forelin or even Gylli's. Herbert Samuel, Rafael, Messa, among a few more, are in this group.

Jerusalem, Israel
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for Jerusalem
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18. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

I'll just add to the comments on 1868 - we've been to the meat restaurant, and to the dairy restaurant and cafe. We won't go back to any of them.

Although the food at the dairy restaurant was very interesting, and extremely tasty, the price was ridiculously high, and the service was really bad. For the main course we were offered "specials" without being told that they would cost twice the price of all other main courses. The bill had many mistakes, and the couple we were with had a row with the waiter !!

In the cafe, the food wasn't great, the prices were high, and the service was abominable (and I don't use that word very often).

The meat restaurant is just plain expensive, and not very good.

I got a birthday email from them with a special deal - the email went straight into the deleted emails bin :-(

california
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19. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

I still swear by Carmela beNachalat...great food, not overpriced and such a lovely location in a historic building in this old section of Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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for Tel Aviv
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20. Re: Dinner at Catit - Tel Aviv

I agree that Carmela Banahala is a great place.

My favorite place for good inexpensive dining is Tamara Bistro in Ha'Hashmonaim st. They have a 3 course set menu for about 100 Shekels

Cordelia in old Jaffa is a lot of fun: creative kitchen with somewhat crazy decor. You can visit their English web site (www.cordelia.co.il)