La Maison, in Tel-Aviv, is exactly the type of place I love:
Tiny, free of artifice, and without a single molecule of compromise or pretension, to be found within it’s walls.
And better yet, it’s run by two of the best cooks in town, the former chefs at Yoezer, (Also in my TLV Top 5) Ilan DovShani and Ben Tidhar.
Not only do these guys bust out the VERY BEST charcuterie in Tel-Aviv, they are also fantastic guys who work hard, remain simple and down to earth, and make no secret that they are on a mission for perfection.
In short: My Kind of Guys.
In the several months that they have been open, I have become a real pest to those guys, I tell you:
I sit there at least twice a week, usually with an entourage of cooks, shovelling up everything those two are making, taking up all the space outside, (which is 3 tables outside on the sidewalk enclosed with a simple cast-iron fence with charming little iron birds clustered on the wires. Tres mignon!)
drinking fine Belgian beers, or in my case, arak, talking about industry gossip, and in general, treating the place like it’s our living room.
Well, true, there is a beauty-salon across the street catering to the, ahem, “cross-dressing” crowd, and maybe that isn’t in any of our living rooms, or maybe it is, because it’s none of my business what my cooks or my friends do at home!
But, hey, I am not complaining about that! It adds to the atmosphere!
Which is exactly another thing which is so great about La Maison-
Ilan and Ben aren’t just chefs. They are genuinely warm and interesting people, who make everyone, not just us cooks, feel at home.
Now that I have spent a bunch of time telling you what hella guys they are, let’s get down to business.
And by “Business”, I mean, discussing the best charcuterie that I have eaten in Israel.
Let’s face it: all the poseurs and followers of PR hype may sit at “Charcuterie”, but I sure hope it isn’t for the actual charcuterie, because that place is like that old story about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”- in short, a load of pretensions, out-of–line prices, and no substance.
The opposite is true at La Maison:
Their Pate de Campagne is comparable to the best ones that I have tried in France: Roughly ground liver, cured meats, and pistachios, gently baked en bain marie, the texture is rustic yet sublime, the flavours balanced, complex, and delectable! And let me tell you, it isn’t easy to make this the right way!
The outrageously rich and decadent Terrine of Chicken and Chicken Livers with White Truffle is simply “Over The Top”- and I mean that in the very best way!!
You’ll feel like a privileged French aristocrat when you sit down and eat this!
The little jars of the lightest and most delicate Veal Liver mousse are a special treat that should NOT be missed.
And the lightly smoked Pork Neck with a thick crust of toasted fennel seeds is succulent, unique, and makes a sandwich so divine it will bring tears to your eyes!
Handmade Coppa? Hell yeah!
Jambon, with a perfectly decadent layer of fat surrounding the delicate, sweet meat!
A Pancetta that they cure for 4 months, the only one in Israel!
I used to have to hand carry the stuff back home from trips to Italy!
A Roast Beef which they make from a huge cut of Sirloin on the Bone- covered with a thick crust of herbs butter and roasted to a perfect medium-rare!
Oh my God! I usually sit there and eat about 300 grams of this, on it’s own, for lunch!
Corned Beef, Smoked Veal Pastrama- All of the very best quality, and with their unmistakable signature of excellence.
Even the potato salad, and chopped liver is different and so much better than the usual versions..
They also make handmade fresh sausages, which are sold raw, to take home and cook- and yeah, I know that everyone and his brother has started making fresh sausages around here lately, but don’t be fooled:
Making sausages is a precise and difficult science, not as simple as just tossing a bunch of random stuff into a meat grinder and stuffing it into sausage casings-
(as most people do here!)
Making a perfect sausage is a precise emulsification technique- meaning that exactly the right amounts of meat and fat, at the correct temperatures, must be blended together to form the mixture, so it won’t turn into a greasy, crumbly, mess when cooked! Now that’s the kind of “Molecular” cuisine I like!
These sausages are by far and away, the very best in Israel.
A perfect Boudin Noir (Blood Sausage) delicately flavoured with muscat and pepper.. succulent Smoked Paprika Chorizo,
(perfect for making Paella, I might add) white Bratwurst…
Take a bunch of these home, grill them up, make a salad and open a few bottles of wine.. Dinner is served!!
And as if that isn’t enough, Ben has recently started to make absolutely fresh, delicious, and delicate pickled Palamida, and herring cured with olive oil, bay leaves, and allspice! Mon Dieu!
He claims he never eats fish unless it’s raw, so he won’t touch the stuff himself, but I have something to say to him: Buddy, you don’t know what you are missing!
And in case you cheap bastards aren’t convinced yet, the prices are not only reasonable, they are in fact, TRES reasonable!
Believe me, cooks are notoriously broke, and whether they love a place or not, if they can’t afford it, they just don’t go!
And my crew is there multiple times a week!
Up until now, they have been open from noon-8pm, from Sundays to Thursdays, and until 4pm on Fridays, but now, they plan on opening up at night, too, with a tiny bar, which in my opinion, is fantastic news.
Now all of us cooks can not only sit there all day, we can sit there at night, too- and DRINK! Hallelujah!
I only have one request, guys:
Bring some more wine, please! Or at least some Pastis! Truth be told, I’m not a beer-drinkin’ kind of girl.
But that’s just being petty, really.
I’ve even made a convert of Alon! If we don’t go there every Friday afternoon for lunch, he sulks and pouts, whines and complains, and generally makes my life miserable, until we get there!
Well- as all of you know, at any given time, there are only 5 restaurants which I will sit at, happily, and recommend in Tel-Aviv, and since Yoshi closed a while back, there had only been 4-
Until La Maison came along, and jumped on in to the Elite Top 5!!
And to that, I say- Welcome, Boys, and Long May You Reign!!
Tchernikovsky #1 (near corner of Allenby)
03) 620 6022