The name Herbert Samuel has been associated with fine dining from the days the original Tel Aviv restaurant was founded by celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld, and it expanded to become a chain of three restaurants. Now that the flagship restaurant in Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem branch in the hotel of the same name have both closed, the kosher Herbert Samuel in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the marina in Herzliya Pituah is the sole surviving restaurant to bear the prestigious name.
The kitchen is still helmed by the same chef who trained with Roshfeld and won the job to open the first kosher Herbert Samuel. Since the menu relies on the freshest seasonal ingredients, it is updated several times a year and is currently in its Winter 2019 iteration.
There is just one house cocktail, with the intriguing name Jasmine Rapture, but it comes in two variations, with vodka or gin. Either way, it is a fruity and refreshing drink, redolent with the flavor of pomegranate.
The menu comprises six sections: Raw, The Way We Like to Start at Herbert Samuel, Homemade Pasta, Catch of the Day, Beef from the Golan Heights, and Limited Edition. There is an average of three dishes in each category, but very few vegetarian or vegan options.
We started with one of the three raw fish dishes: Red tuna sashimi, with charred spring onion oil, young fennel salsa and a persimmon-ginger vinaigrette. The ruby-hued fish was extremely fresh, and accented expertly by the unusual condiments.
Our second appetizer was actually from the Limited Edition category, which contains two main courses and one starter: foie gras topped with plum chutney, both perched on a disc of Casten bread. The richness of the foie gras was cut nicely by the sweet-tart fruit, making for an exquisite open-faced sandwich.
The wintry weather nudged us toward ordering one of the two soups on the menu: vichyssoise with hummus croutons and salted almond foam. This warm, elegant version of the French potato and leek classic was a velvety delight.
Our waitress recommended one of the only two cooked vegan choices on the menu: chargrilled cauliflower with truffle cream, poached egg and smoked salt. This dish did not taste as exotic as it sounds, but it was a pleasant enough way to eat a healthy cruciferous vegetable.
Although one of the two categories of main courses was titled Beef from the Golan Heights, in truth only one of the three dishes in this section is beef; the other two are lamb and duck. The former was three rather thick and unusually well marbled lamb chops, grilled perfectly and seasoned with a sage rub. They were positively succulent, and the accompanying lima bean cream and grilled vegetables in green garlic vinaigrette fine complements.
The duck breast, marinated in miso teriyaki, was served with multiple intriguing side dishes: Japanese pumpkin cream, pineapple chimichurri, quinoa popcorn, and mashed potatoes seasoned with mustard seeds and wasabi. The duck was tender and flavorful, and all the rest interesting and delicious.
The wine list is not extensive but it is more than adequate, and well curated. The menu came with a cellar recommendation: the 2012 Single Vineyard Kayoumi Shiraz by Carmel. We enjoyed both this and the house red, a blend by Tulip.
The separate dessert menu lists three desserts, from which we chose the two that were not exclusively sorbet. The Har Bracha was a decadently large bowl of tahini sorbet with four pieces of moist date cake and sesame tuile, while the Valrhona chocolate bar—chocolate cremeux layering a crunchy cookie, alongside a scoop of hazelnut ice cream and salted caramel—combined the best of both worlds: candy and cake.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
4 Hashunit St., Herzliya Pituah