Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Best Hamburger in Town? - Dog Doo

Rothschild Kitchen

It was a wind-swept Saturday morning when the brunette and I left our flat to meet up with some friends in the Shenkin area of Tel Aviv. Originally we had craved the ubiquitous 'Israeli breakfast experience' but following the disappointment of Hotel Montefiore (what is with the need to be 'cmo be houl' like abroad!) we decided to try Rothschild's Kitchen as they claim to have the best burger in town on their menu.

Walking through the back streets between King George and Shenkin we were greeted with a slalom course of dog doo delight. The brunette was complaining that it was worse than Paris though I had to explain the obvious rule, forbidding of picking up the excrement as commanded in the bible. Needless to say we agreed that this was another attempt by the religious community in trying to impact our non-religious lifestyle and part of the harsh reality of living in Tel Aviv.

Following our pleasantries with the couple from the UK, we were dismayed to learn they were thinking of immigrating to Israel. Naturally we explained the reality of living in this harsh land of dog doo, reality TV and the difficulty of finding a good restaurant and left them to head off and try our luck at Rothschild’s Kitchen.

I have to admit to this day we have not had a great or even good hamburger in Israel and before people start shouting about their 'best' hamburger joints from the blind 80 year old master in an obscure market to the most expensive restaurant in Tel Aviv - the reality is that the quality/taste of meat in this country is far less than in countries which have green pastures (or at least in the ones that I have lived in). Maybe it is just our taste buds from years of eating Scottish, US and Argentinian beef and lamb but meat here is just not that tasty at best quite inedible at worst.

Regardless we decided to take another chance, or at least I did, as the brunette scarred by the horrors of Agadir and Moses couldn't bring around herself mentally to order another patty nightmare. Instead she made the bigger mistake of ordering the 'Special'.

Rothschild Kitchen can be found in the middle of the well-known and upmarket boulevard in Tel Aviv. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this area as on one hand it is vibrant with some very nice renovated International style buildings but on the other it is a little too Poncy nouveau riche yet should it be? But this is beside the point.

We arrived close to 1pm to find the place half full/empty so had no problem getting a table, though was told that we only had one hour to utilise our luck. Staff were friendly and praised the chefs specials for that day. I chose the 'Best hamburger in town' even though my inner Disgruntled Diner was shouting never order the best of anything!!! While the brunette ordered the ‘special’ of stuffed cabbage (goodness knows why).

The Burger
The patty itself was rather small and supposedly made up of best parts of the beef including the butchers choice (Netach Katzavim). Now don't get me started on Netch Katzavim - Before moving to Israel I had never heard or ate this so called delicacy of the best bits of the animal as chosen by the Israeli butcher. Is this an Israeli marketing gimmick to hide the low quality of beef in Israel*? Even if this is the case why would you put in a burger? A very good burger consists of around 80/20 beef/fat combination with many using sirloin or chuck as the beef source. Don’t play around with a burger just check out the latest season of Top Chef where Fabio decided to do just that and was chucked (no pun intended) out

Needless to say the burger was average with the usual trait here of the patty being almost raw in the middle. I found it amusing that this is how burgers are cooked in Israel as while I am a lover of Tartar and Carpaccio there is nothing worse than raw meat of lower quality. At least in the two dishes mentioned there is usually an acid/condiment to counter the flavour, if needed.

Chips were ok, thin if a little heavy on the oil flavour (funnily that is how the brunette likes them).

The Special 

The one thing the brunette and I do agree upon on is the exaggerated talk to reality ratio here in Israel. In Israel we do know how to talk and exaggerate and use the term 'the best' too easily on everything. Rothschild’s Kitchen is no exception with 'the best burger' and an exciting special (as sold by the waitress) of stuffed cabbage with ground meat, root vegetables and rice. Yes it sounded nice but the reality is always far from the Israeli Chef's explanation.

The brunette received a plate with two sad looking stuffed cabbages with far too little stuffing and hardly any rice. My opinion (for what is it worth) is that cabbage needs to be stuffed well as while in general the leaves are thin, there are also lots of thicker parts and you usually end up with a lot of cabbage. Also withholding carbo from the brunette is like withholding cookies from the cookie monster, with my fries bearing the brunt of the attack.

With the main courses eaten we just wanted to leave, though our waiter (our third one) was praising the delights of the 'best' cheesecake and even turned to ask the table to our left who had ordered the desert for their opinion. Unfortunately this is where the waiter made a tactical mistake as the average Israeli will not admit to someone else’s ‘the best’ as they have created their own 'the best' list and will not be a Friarar (sucker) in admitting he/she was wrong. And true to form the table said yes it nice but the best?!?. Thankfully this farce allowed us to order the bill of 144nis.

Overall another disgruntling dining experience to add to our ever growing list here in Tel Aviv. Leaving the restaurant the brunette and I vowed to continue our search for a worthwhile dining experience in Israel (outside of Jewish ethnic, hummus and falafel).

Rothschild Kitchen – 2 out of 5

* Since the posting of the blog I have been told by a disgruntled Israeli (disgruntled with my blog) that the Butchers cut is the Onglet or Hangar steak. Which in the context of the hamburger is even more perplexing. Thanks for the clarification!

The Disgruntled Diner

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