Every evening, the neighborhood café-bakery Brown, located in the G Tzameret Mall in north Tel Aviv, undergoes a transformation—into a white tablecloth restaurant helmed by Chef Michal Levy. Evenings are also when Brown offers its popular tasting menu for two people: three first courses served in the center of the table for sharing; two main courses; and one double dessert.
The tasting menu also includes a bottle of mineral water for the table; two glasses of an alcoholic beverage—either wine or a cocktail—and bread: herbed focaccia or one of the specialty breads from the on-site bakery. The total cost of this spread is NIS 450, for both persons.
The bread or warm focaccia is served with olive oil with balsamic vinegar, garlic-infused olive oil, and an addictive tomato comfit. Butter may also be requested. It is altogether too easy—although obviously not advisable—to fill up on these goodies.
Brown offers eight specialty cocktails, four of them based on gin. Probably the most intriguing is “Rocking to the beets”—a blend of lavender-infused gin, lavender, fortified wine, fresh lemon, pineapple and beets, served on the rocks in a tumbler and garnished with lemon peel. This creative drink has a very pleasing complexity.
The bilingual menu lists four first courses, from which diners are prompted to choose three. The Hebrew menu only also mentions a fifth possibility, a vegetarian alternative—just one of several puzzling discrepancies between the English and Hebrew menus (the cocktail menu, although thankfully not the wine list, is also inexplicably only in Hebrew).
The first of our starters was a salad of three kinds of lettuce—iceberg, salanova and romaine lettuce—plus basil, parsley and mint leaves, together with generous triangles of blue cheese, and a small dollop of comfiture made from a seasonal fruit (strawberry, on the evening we were there). Tossed with a light vinaigrette, this is one terrific salad, although it might have benefited from a sprinkling of nuts.
Toasted walnuts did make an appearance in the next dish, however: the beef carpaccio—razor-thin slices of beef with arugula, olive oil, sea salt, a balsamic reduction and shaved Parmesan. What sets this version of the dish apart from the ordinary, in addition to the walnuts, are the fresh giant capers, which add a whole new dimension to the unparalleled interplay of flavors and textures.
The third appetizer was liver pâté and toasted mini brioche, paired with onion jam, pear comfiture and wine jelly. The richness of the liver spread on the crunchy toast was cut nicely by the sweet fruit concoctions, in a dish that disappeared all too quickly.
There are always one or two pasta dishes as main courses, since Chef Levy trained in Italy. Her recommendation to us was the daily special: seafood tagliatelle, featuring extremely fresh mussels, calamari and shrimp that had just been delivered. The al dente ribbons of pasta were enhanced by a delicate butter and wine sauce that did not overwhelm the flavorful seafood. You would not find a better pasta dish in any Italian restaurant.
Our other main course is a long-time favorite at Brown: the butcher’s cut, with root vegetable cream and broccoli florets. The medium-rare slices of steak, dipped in the mild purée, were positively succulent.
If you tell the kitchen you are planning to share the main courses as well, they will plate
them for you accordingly. They are also very accommodating when it comes to allergies and food sensitivities.
Desserts, created by a dedicated pastry chef, are not on the printed menu, but are on display and explained by the wait staff. We enjoyed an ideal dessert: the chocolate mousse tart—light enough to finish even after a satisfying meal, yet still decadent enough to please any chocolate lover.
And there are always Brown’s homemade ice creams: a choice of two scoops of one of their premium flavors, served alongside a chocolate cone.
G Tzameret Mall, Nissim Aloni St. 10, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 544-4024