Sunday, July 3, 2011

In Praise of Hebrew Book Week – A Decent Israeli Burger at Wolfnights

Wolfnights – Rabin Square

One of my favourite yearly events in Tel Aviv (and throughout Israel) is Hebrew Book Week (actually 10 days long). For those unfamiliar with the event it is when all the publishers’ set-up book stands in almost every large town during the evening hours. The Fair is to promote local Hebrew books whether it is fiction, non-fiction or children.

This particular event has been taking place since 1961 but has in different guises occurred in Tel Aviv from 1926. I recall as a child visiting with my parents, and the joy of being able to pick ‘my’ book. As such it is still a special and non-cynical event in my nostalgic eyes, particularly for families and kids and reminds us of more quiet and less hectic past.

Israel is a very literary society with many publishers and books for such a small market coupled with yearly public book fairs. To the point that in 2005 it was reported that Israel leads the world in per-capita new titles. This is something I hadn’t really noticed as my initial impression when comparing environments, friends and colleagues in the UK and Israel, that here reading is not that popular – I guess I am wrong.

At the Fair, one can find most publishers and best-sellers in one location, in Tel Aviv it is Rabin Square. And as opposed to everything else here the books are cheap with bestsellers selling at 3 for 100nis. An ironic Israeli example of where two competitive publishers have gone to the other extreme with competition creating lower prices as opposed to higher.

I have to be candid and say that I don’t read in Hebrew anymore, but still really much enjoyed wandering the different stands and seeing what is new and old. I mean books! In an age of reality TV and Ipads it is refreshing to be able to touch and pass your fingers over the written past, present and future.

The Israeli Hebrew week is one important example of what makes this country unique and special!


Reading, as every other activity, tends to make me hungry and luckily surrounding the book fair are several good eating options including Brasserie and for a quick bite the newly opened Wolfnights. Now there is no need to re-discuss my beef and hamburger dilemma in Israel, but at least this story has a happy ending.

Wolfnights is a hamburger joint, they call themselves a chef burger place but I find the term ridiculous and pretentious – It is just a burger! The restaurant can be found on the south-east corner of the square and is modern with tables outside and a counter area with bar stools inside.

Apart from the annoying term chef burger (which exists outside Israel) Israeli hamburger joints offer the option of mixing beef and lamb into the patty. To me personally this is a disaster as I find both the lamb and beef in Israel not tasty – combined into a burger equals failure to my palate. I wonder who came up with that concoction here?

At Wolfnights one can choose from beef or beef/lamb burgers priced at 41nis-49nis - I went for the plain beef version. You order at the counter and are asked if you want the burger medium-well (this is different from other burger places which tend to go for medium). In any other country I would ask for medium but here that equates to raw meat in the middle.

My wait for the burger was rather long, around 20 minutes, but finally my name was called and I picked up my course. The first bite is always a nervous moment as it usually ends in disappointment. But tonight it was decent, not bad (not amazing) but not bad. The burger was cooked well – still pink in the middle and the quality / flavour of the beef was good quality ground meat and grill-charred. The bun was also slightly charred inside and complimented the burger. I had also ordered French fries which were tasty and crispy not too thin or fat. One other observation is that there are no fancy sauces here like in Moses but to me that is a good thing as multiple sauces exist to hide the flavour of the food of which it smothers.

Overall I enjoyed the flavour of the burger more than is other burger joints like Agadir and Moses. It was certainly not the best burger ever but here in Israel beggars can’t be choosers and I would go back the next time I have a burger craving.  

3.5 stars out of 5



1 comment:

  1. I would have to agree, their burgers are not amazing by any means, but I do find they have the best burgers in town, which is something at least :)