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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rustic turns to romantic

The stars of Arnold's cozy kosher meat restaurant are the appetizers and the desserts.

Are you looking for romance? Then call – just kidding.

Well, maybe I’m not kidding.

Arnold’s is a surprisingly nice restaurant tucked away a few kilometers east of Nahariya. Located at the entrance to Netiv Hashayara, you can find parking near the banana trees.

The bistro is housed in a rustic wood cabin, but inside rustic turns to romantic. Soft, jazzy music plays in the background, tables are lined with dark red cloths, and candles flicker tenderly. The menus are leather-bound, including the respectable wine list.

The stars of said menu are the appetizers and desserts, which says something for a kosher chef’s restaurant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. On the night of my visit, the Galilee tapas platter (NIS 60/38) included a simple yet refreshingly light fattoush salad with a nice pita chip crunch; a tabboulehstyle quinoa salad loaded with fresh parsley and dried cranberries; a chunky, homemade humous that even my humous-averse dining partner loved; an eggplant cream topped with nigella, which was tangy and light; and cherry tomatoes topped with dukkah (an Egyptian spice blend pronounced doah) that was an interesting change of pace. We also got a fresh, oily focaccia with pickled lemon spread, olive tapenade and an olive oil-balsamic vinegar combo, which is always my simple favorite (NIS 15).

We also sampled a number of other appetizers. The veal tonsils with red onions (NIS 56) were tender, flavored by the grill and a slightly sweet chimichurri sauce. Little lamb kebabs served on green tehina (NIS 38) were heavily seasoned with a Turkish flair, although the tehina was a bit lacking in flavor. Small flour tortilla rolls stuffed with beef and chicken (NIS 38) were less of a hit, as the sweet-tinged meat was somewhat tough. However, the tortillas were fresh and authentic. Despite my conscience, we had the foie gras, too (NIS 78). It was served on caramelized toast with a berry sauce, making it a dish almost befitting a breakfast. It was very sweet, although the flavor of the liver managed to shine through. I had to battle myself to put the fork down.

Everything was presented simply, with a little garnish here and there. Our fellow patrons were a mix of religious and non-religious, with a private party out on the enclosed porch and a full house of couples dining inside.

After a palate cleanser, we moved on to sample the main courses. The 450-gram entrecote (NIS 148) was a sight for sore eyes: hot off the fire with enticing grill marks. It tasted like beef and not sauce, but somehow it wasn’t juicy enough. The smoked asado (NIS 98) was heavy on garlic and low on meat flavor, and the thin slices were too tough for my liking. However, the veal spareribs in a homemade barbecue sauce (NIS 98) were soft and melted in my mouth, although I could have done without the bed of sweet potato beneath. The side salad with sweet dressing over bitter leaves was exceptionally good.

Chef Uri Arnold is also a brewer, along with his kitchen-based talents. He makes his own beer, fittingly called Arnold’s. Although it’s more reminiscent of an alcoholic cider or champagne than ale, the barleybased brew is refreshing (NIS 26).

Among the halva parfait, chocolate mousse and kadaif with berry sauce (NIS 38 each), I couldn’t say which was best. None were too rich, and all were delicious and attractively plated. The mousse was gooier than it was airy, but I didn’t mind, since it tasted fabulous. Plus it came in an edible chocolate dish.

For the ambience, Arnold’s is definitely a charming choice. And despite a tendency to drown out some of the meats’ flavors with sauces and seasoning, the menu is worth a special night out.

Arnold’s. Moshav Netiv Hashayara. Kosher. (04) 952-2211.

Best Kosher Restaurants in the Galilee - Arnold's

Really great kosher restaurants are not as easy to find in the Galilee as you would expect, so I was very interested to hear about "Arnold's". A good friend of mine found this gourmet meat restaurant while she was vacationing in Nahariya. It's situated at the entrance to Moshav Nativ Hashayara, not far from Kabri junction.

Since it opened in September 2007, Arnold's has built a reputation for consistantly serving good food and has become one of the leading kosher restaurants in Western Galilee. It is owned and run by Chef Uri (Arnold) Arnon, who saw it as a personal challenge to disprove the myth that food can either be kosher or good - a view that he calls "outdated and primitive".

Uri Arnon is no novice - after studying hotel catering at Tadmor,he has worked in several prestigious restaurants over the years: Mul Yam, Dixie and Barcola in the centre of the country and the Morgenfeld Steakhouse in the north. Uri has an interesting religious background - his maternal grandfather was an esteemed rabbi in Egypt and Jerusalem while his paternal grandfather was a priest (Uri's own father converted to Judaism).

spare ribs in barbecue sauce The menu at Arnold's is varied and imaginative - local Galilee mixed with French and Mediterranean influences. Check out the veal spare ribs in home-made barbecue sauce! Not a meat-lover? There's a choice of pasta, chicken and salmon dishes on the menu, too. And to go with the meal, choose from one of the good local wines on the wine menu, picked to suit the character of the restaurant and the dishes - or try their home-brewed beer.

My friend, who has a sweet tooth, had only good things to say about the desserts. She and her partner shared the chocolate fondue, which comes with fruit and marshmallows to dip in it - who says that parve can't be delicious!

What else did she like about Arnold's? The atmosphere is warm and relaxed and you can sit outside on a wooden deck while enjoying the view over the countryside. Would she recommend it to other couples for a romantic meal? Yes, definitely!

Opening times are Sunday - Thursday 12.00-23.00, Friday till 16.00 and Saturday evenings (motzei Shabbat). For reservations, phone: 04-9522211 or 054-5650521.