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Salisbury steak in a sauce of red wine and berries
Buzzy Gordon
Dixie does wine
Review: Chef Haim Cohen’s Dixie Grill Bar is celebrating its annual wine festival through March 4; this year’s 'culinary tango' of wine and food celebrates vintages from the Old World.
Dixie Grill Bar, founded by celebrity chef Haim Cohen 24 years ago, hosts two festivals annually: a hamburger festival in the summer, and a wine festival in the winter. The restaurant calls the latter yearly event a culinary tango of wine and food, in the framework of which specially curated wines are made available by the glass as well as by the bottle, and special dishes are cooked in wine.

 

 

The current wine festival features 10 wines, five from Israel and five from Europe—specifically, from France, Germany and Italy. Two of the 10 are white, while eight are red; once again, each category is evenly divided between Israel and Europe.

 

The festival’s wines are listed and described in a specially designed booklet, which—unfortunately, apart from the names of the wines—is entirely in Hebrew. Similarly, the menu of four dishes prepared especially for the festival is also only in Hebrew. (Nor will the restaurant’s website be of any assistance: the English version of the site, unlike the Hebrew one, does not even mention the existence of the festival.)

 

 

We were, at least, sent a waiter with a reasonable command of English who explained the wines and festival dishes. Hopefully, this review will serve as a bit of a guide.

 

Thankfully, Dixie was very gracious about allowing us to taste festival wines before committing to order. We enjoyed the three wines we tasted: the Sancerre from the Loire Valley, a blend of three varietals from Italy, and a pinot noir from Germany.

 

The four dishes created for the festival comprise one appetizer, two main courses and one dessert, although they are not categorized as such on the menu.

 

The salmon ceviche is a mound of raw salmon, cubed finely and served with almost identical cubes of persimmon and slices of radish, seasoned with cilantro and chili in a sauce of white wine and yogurt. It was a tasty enough appetizer, although without any citrus and absent any chili-generated heat, it could hardly be classified a ceviche.

 

 

A second appetizer recommended by our waiter came from the regular menu: the Pineapple Express—rolls of sirloin with green onion, cherry tomatoes, red onion, portobello mushrooms, chili, coriander, mint, lemon, and pecan pralines in a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. The steak exuded a hint of balsamic vinegar marinade, and all in all the dish represented a terrific interplay of flavors and textures, along with a pleasant tingle of heat that lingered in the mouth.

 

Like our salmon starter, the Pineapple Express—deservedly one of Dixie’s signature salads—was large enough to share.

 

 

Both main courses from the festival menu featured meat. The crispy chicken livers in a sauce of red wine and balsamic vinegar were paired nicely with excellent mashed potatoes and caramelized onion; the larger-than-usual morsels of chicken liver with barely crusty exteriors melted in the mouth, while the outstanding mashed potatoes were creamy and addictive. Any fans of this organ meat will enjoy this dish.

 

The second main course was Salisbury steak in a sauce of red wine and berries, served with a root vegetable purée and bone marrow. We were not asked how we wanted it prepared, and the practically rare meat was underdone. Still, it was a juicy and flavorful, in a sauce that enhanced the chopped steak without being too sweet.

 

  

The purée was actually the same mashed potatoes as with before, with a bit of julienned zucchini. A bone that was already split yielded succulent marrow that added extra richness to the delicious purée.

 

The festival dessert is a sabrina cake soaked in white wine and spices, sandwiched between pear poached in red wine and a layer of red wine syrup. Topped with a generous amount of vanilla-infused whipped cream, this dessert managed to be light and substantial at the same time, and a great way for two people to share a memorable finale to a limited-edition meal.

 

 

Dixie Grill Bar

Not kosher

Yigal Alon St. 120, Tel Aviv

Tel. (03) 642-6993

 

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