18 Rabi Akiva (Corner of Gedera)
My theory is that the name and logo of a restaurant might be able to reveal how authentic it is and HaMitbachon certainly lives up to its title. With a name that translates to “The Kitchen” in English and the logo of the in house Tabby cat who has been residing at the restaurant since it opened, HaMitbachon really feels like your mom’s kitchen. It is straight forward, homemade food that is hearty and tasty.
Almost every dish is made in house which makes it safe to say that HaMitbachon offers Israeli soul food: Cous Cous served with a stew of slow cooked carrots, zucchini, onion, potatoes, and beef; ground beef and chicken meatballs with a basic slow roasted, tangy tomato and red pepper sauce served over white rice; and only on the weekends – Cholent, a traditional Shabbat dish that consists of eggs, beans, potatoes, and beef that simmers all night. In addition to the hearty dishes, HaMitbachon offers a small selection of fresh salads accompanied with some of the best home made salad dressing in the city. The roots salad is a mix of the freshest root vegetables – raw beets and radishes, onion and lettuce with thin squares of fresh parmesan cheese covered in the most perfectly seasoned lemon garlic dressing I have yet to try.
On a cold day one of their homemade soups truly hits the spot. They have about ten soups on the menu and they offer a selection of three each day with the selection changing daily. The hot spinach and yogurt soup is a dish you definitely won’t want to miss. With a perfect blend of spinach, dairy, and a hint of acidity to integrate all the flavors it’s really a special dish, and in my opinion a great meal if you order white rice on the side and add it to the soup. If you are in the mood for something small their extensive list of appetizers which includes chopped liver, beet salad, and tabouli is a great way to nosh. If you are with a group nothing tops the appetizer sampler of four appetizers, which you get to select from the menu, on a big plate for only 40 shekels.
In the event you are not so hungry, it’s worth making a stop just for one of their homemade desserts (the malabi is my personal favorite) or a glass of beer and take in your surroundings. HaMitbachon is located in the hip area of the Kerem Hatemanim right behind the Shuk HaCarmel. On an early Friday afternoon while everyone is bustling around trying to get their shopping done for the weekend, it is worth your while to sit on the patio and do some people watching, for it is one of the most eclectic and diverse areas in Tel Aviv. The quiant little restaurant in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle gives you a real taste for the paradox of Israeli culture. Among all the chaos there is a place like home where you can sit, enjoy a great meal, and feel like you are a part of the family.
Photos: Rachel Brender