Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yo'Ezer Meat and Wine Bar: Tel Aviv, Israel

Date: Various, Winter 2012
Location:  Yo'ezer ish habira 2, סמטת יועזר איש הבירה 2‎ Tel Aviv, Israel
The wine bar is on the inland (east) side of Yefet St, a few feet down an alley opposite the clock tower.
Telephone:  +972 03-683-9115

Pictured left, pioneer of journalistic food writing in Israel, Yo'Ezer owner Shaul Evron.

This is a cozy, sophisticated, gem of a find in the characteristic Old Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv. I was invited to have lunch here one day by one of the world’s finest wine connoisseurs around, Monsieur Yair Haidu.  Tasting blind is the only way this gentleman tastes fine wines - a pretty darn precise palate to say the least.  Suffice to say, fine meals to follow dining in his company. 

Most of you know that I’m a flexible vegetarian. If foie is on the menu, I’m ordering it. If Kobe Beef is on the menu, I’m ordering it. If escargot is on the menu, you know the drill. Basically I'm eating meat only if it is very excellent quality.

Yo'Ezer specializes in meats.  But we’re not talking hunks of meats here.  Yo'Ezer cures their own meats, smokes their own salmon, etc.  It’s a finessed take on the preparation of fine meats.  Not the average Israel chock-it-up and drop-it-like-its hot-on-your-table type of restaurant experience by any means.  Quite the opposite, with a seemingly xperienced European approach.  Dishes are savory, possess a great amount of acidity (yay!) coupled with mellifluous harmony of seasonal ingredients.  Altogether, an awakening concoction is created on your palate.  There is a zing to each dish here which I'm still remembering as I scribe this from Hong Kong.

We entered Yo'Ezer through an arched cave underway, tucked inside a building dating back to the Crusader era. Already feeling very good! We joined Shaul at the bar, my preferred dining seating.  The ambiance at Yo Ezer is for the mature, refined, food and wine lover. People are speaking in low tones here, partaking in the slow eating of savory cheese plates, delighting themselves in the myriad of fine meat dishes, indulging in the famous rich and creamy 40-eggs pasta dish. 

Yo'Ezer also has an impressive wine list, as also dubbed by my San Francisco wine specialist friend Laely Heron ( who recently visited Israel and Yo'Ezer with her local wine foodie friends.  This is another indicator that those in the international food and wine scene know that this is a critic's choice place to dine.   

I requested Chablis to start off our lunch, since I was a kid in a candy store seeing the fresh raw oysters Shaul was deliciously eating up.  Shaul offered me an oyster from his plate too.  I was elated!  Harbinger to a guaranteed splendid long, languid, Soledad style luncheon.  I was quite happy.

Yo'Ezer also makes the best cocktails in Israel. Hailing from San Francisco (where we coined the term “mixologist” as opposed to “bartender”), I’m pretty snobbish about my cocktails. Tinctures vs. bitters, shaken vs. stirred, artisan ice vs. crushed, that’s the kind of detailed cocktail I’m talking about. Those details aren't just for looks or being trendy either.  They have every bit to do with temperature, composition, and refined taste per drink made that I expect in my glass.  I liked the Sidecar that the head bartender at Yo'Ezer made for me. I remembered it.

Below photos are what became a gastronomic feast that I would rate as one of my top lunch experiences globally.  For the international food and wine lover, Yo'Ezer is a gem of its kind in Israel and maybe even the world. I will definitely be back.

Sweet, delicate fresh oysters. Right amoubt of brine.

Sheeps brain, egg yolk, bread.  A rich and exotic surprise to my palate.

A medley of finely cured meats and salmon delight, with a paired side of egg salad with the right amount of acidity balancing the protein dishes.

Extremely memorable pairing of lox, mini pancake, and artisan cream cheese spread.  Again, showcasing proper acidity paired with right creamy texture and fluffy sweetness of mini pancake.

Savory beef bourguignon - if I were a carnivore I would not have shared this dish.

Perhaps my favorite dish of all!  A seemingly pedestrian style dish, however amazed with its succulent combination of savory and sour, right acidity, and absolutely perfect textural pairings of meat, smooth potatoe, crispy pickles, and pickled sauerkraut.  Not such a pedestrian dish afterall.   

Ahhh, very nicely prepared pasta al dente.   Just like they make it in Italy.  Prepared with juicy combination of stewed beef and fresh pecorino cheese shaved on top.

Pretty good Sidecar cocktail.  Soledad favorite still lies with Spuce SF, however (

May very be the best Spanish style flan I've had all of my global culinary adventures... Perfect creaminess, perfect texture on top, perfect caramel butterscotch sauce.