Location: 30 Yefet Street
Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Israel
Telephone: +972 3 518 4668
Comparison to: http://www.tacobell.com/
I arrived by taxi in a charming, quaint location in the Jaffa port neighborhood of Tel Aviv, where the restaurant is nestled in a small stone cobbled street of old Crusader-era building. Wrought-iron gating lined the windows, romantic and dark simultaneously. Only a few patrons inside, which for me can sometimes be great because I like dining without the din of a thousand people shouting over each other.
A lot of people ask me, how did I come to develop my passion for food and wine? I have a few versions of that same truth... I have always loved food. However, the intensity of my passion developed proportionately related to how inversely proportionate my work-life balance is. In recent years, my jet-setting, road-warrior international lifestyle gained momentum. I embraced these opportunities to travel via working very hard during the week (70 hours is normal, travel time not included), and therefore on the short 48 hours of "free" time I had on weekends, I maximized to the full extreme. I fed and pampered myself well in order to replenish my body and spirit of how depleted it became by the end of every week. Typically during the week we are grabbing scraps to eat in hotel executive lounges because we really don't have time for anything else.
This above is why - it is so critically important for Chefs of so called "fine dining" establishments, to truly present honest to good, passionate dishes. Or else, just stay home. Really. Most people who enjoy fine dining are seeking not only an experience of being served and treated well after working a long and hard arduous work week in multiple time zones, traveling through many airports. They are also looking for a truly soul-satisfying meal, that which will help replenish all the energy and nutrients depleted during their previous days' working and traveling. Naturally, we will have reasonably high expectations of food quality, color harmony and placement presentation. That is, unless you can be taken for a dupe.
Below pictures is what came out. I am pretty appalled, as I wrote to my friend in Hong Kong... "Does this Chef think he can cheat me? Serving *explitive* awful ugly *explitive* food and prancing around being proud of it? *explitive" using taco bell lettuce under Yellow Tail Carpaccio???" It is absolutely horrifying, that a Chef can be proud of such dishes being served to honest patrons seeking great food based on the marketing as seen on his creative websites. Add to that - the fact that I was blatantly taking so many photos, anyone with half a brain might just have guessed I was an international food critic or an enthusiastic food blogger. But no, no, they didn't care. Same crappy food served out.
My fellow international jet-setting girlfriend from Hong Kong (who studied at the Cordon in France), was also traveling through the Middle East and visited Cordelia this week. Her sentiments: "Loved the decor. Food was so so. Too salty." Echo on that! Wayyyy too salty on all the dishes, not sure what was going on back there with the heavy handed super big, giant sea salt particles.
The next day during lunch with a table of work colleagues, more than half the table who had visited Cordelia in the past also shook their head in disgust. They seemed to think Chef Nir was a cheat.
What I can gather is that, with the growing number of Chef Nir's restaurants in Israel, it seems he is a Chef who might have once been great, and has lost the passion and drive to continually re-invent. A true challenge which only genius chefs can maintain that stamina. Instead, Chef Nir has now focused on quantity and not quality of both his cuisine and business. To the average food person just looking to be pampered in an empty manner without focused food quality, then Cordelia might be for you. But - why even bother dropping the cash here? You can have a casual much better meal at any of the cafes in Jaffa and be really happy with the food and service as well. Perhaps because tonight was a Saturday night in Israel (our Sunday), so the Chef and staff were less sharp. But that's not an excuse. As most things are in life, you get just one opportunity to prove yourself. For me, that was the Saturday night I had saved for me, to pamper myself after a long week of work and not eating right. And frankly, that evening left me very mad. I should thank Chef Nir however, since because of that evening, I am now determined with a frenzy passion to redeem myself by experiencing as many restaurants as I can in Israel, every week, from now on. And sharing it with the world.
In short. Sloppy. Ingredients not fresh. Need to invest in much better knives so the food appears finer. Poor presentation, I liken it to refined buffet style. Service by that one boy was very good -which at least I can say helped to make my evening nice. Definitely won't return and neither should you. TOTAL PRICETAG: $250USD/one person.
Potatoes and Goose Liver Foie.
Horrible quality of foie. Not sure how long this has been sitting in their storage refrigerator. The coagulated fat looks disgusting. It was served on a bed of spinach or arugula, which I don't think was even washed/rinsed. The mashed potatoe was actually okay.
Notes copy/pasted scribbled from my iPhone:
Need real wine glasses of crystal, not glass.
Service very good by Israel standards, one girl asked me am I done when I had not even tried one of my apps.
Server boy was pro w wine opening, impressed. He joked that Israel is great at turning the shakshuska
Chef Nir came to greet me himself
Yellow tail capriccio bland
Foie - intersting but can't compare w cafe george v paris champs elysee street foie (STREET foie!!)
Ox tail gnocchi dish - from Taiwanese perspective we perfected the ox tail. Shrimp was good tasty but tasted Asian. Gnocchi was okay. Had better in sf
Sigh. Another one bites the dust.