My Israeli companion was understandably confused: The large bilingual sign identifying the restaurant reads “Lehem Basar” in Hebrew, but instead of the literal translation “Bread [and] Meat,” the English sign proclaims “Meat and Eat.”
Regardless of the name, it is the food that brings the people there – in droves. The pleasant al fresco area overlooking the Herzliya Marina, cooled by the sea breeze and a view of the sunset, fills up with diners until late into the night.
The Herzliya restaurant is one of the newer branches of the nationwide chain, and the menu is undergoing a shift from the printed menu to an electronic one, displayed on iPads. In the meantime, it is advisable to request and use both the old and new versions and listen carefully to the wait staff’s explanations of that evening’s specials.
There is only one house cocktail, the Lehem Basar (NIS 58) – vodka, Martini Bianco, Cointreau, lime juice and lychee liqueur. It is a strong drink but also very sweet.
The house bread is actually taboun-baked focaccia (NIS 16), served with three dips: tehina, a thin tomato sauce, and a spicy condiment of finely chopped peppers. It is easy to fill up on the fresh, warm bread but not advisable, as portions at Meat and Eat are quite large.
Of the starters, the lamb zucchini (NIS 62) particularly caught our eye: baby zucchini stuffed with lamb ragout, pine nuts and rice. The “baby” zucchini turned out to be two huge courgettes, filled with delectable lamb stewed in a rich demi-glace.
This outstanding starter is definitely meant to be shared by two.
The ceviche (NIS 59), another starter, is unlike any I have ever tasted. The raw fish was served tartare-style, surrounded by ponzu sauce that lined the rim of the plate. The fish, studded with crisp vegetables, was exceedingly fresh and better suited to the traditional lime marinade that truly characterizes ceviche than the cloyingly sweet Japanese sauce.
Among the main courses listed only on the electronic menu are mixed grill platters for four and two. The double platter (NIS 490) consisted of 250 grams of entrecôte, 300 grams of sirloin steak, 200 grams of lamb chops (called lamb ribs), 200 grams of lamb kebab, a large skewer of pullet, and vegetable shish kebab.
Weighing in at well over a kilogram of meat, finishing this laden wood platter would be a challenge even for two people who had not eaten starters.
All the meats were succulent, but do not overlook the humble kebabs, which were juicy and delicious, as was the poultry.
As if all this meat and the skewer of grilled tomatoes and onions were not enough, the platter also came with choices of side dishes.
We enjoyed the roasted potatoes and the green salad – actually, a tossed salad with lettuce, cucumber, red onion and carrot – even though it came liberally doused with a sweetish vinaigrette.
There is a more than adequate selection of domestic wines to accompany the meal. There are two house wines, one white and one red, as well as specials on wines of the month and of the day, with prices of wines by the glass beginning at NIS 35. Our favorites were Yatir winery’s Har Amasa and the Assemblage of Barkan’s Reihan.
There were quite a few dessert options (NIS 46), but the electronic menu was not very helpful. The English menu described two desserts in English, and all the rest in Hebrew.
Moreover, neither dessert we ordered matched the photo on the iPad. Both the halva cream with crispy nougat (our waiter’s recommendation) and the mousse at the center of the triple chocolate were as light as chiffon – a definite advantage after such a heavy repast – and exceedingly sweet.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Meat and Eat (Lehem Basar) Kosher (Mehadrin) 1 Hatsedef St., Herzliya Marina Tel: 053-487-2356 (Ben Yuster)