Food is a Luxury: Catit, Tel Aviv

I was shocked to learn that Tel Aviv has no Michelin-star restaurants. This lively city is full of gastronomic spots from hole-in-wall to fine-dining establishments. Before I knew it, my hit list for restaurants to visit became enormously long that I had to pick and choose which ones could fit my tight schedule.

My first stop was at Catit Restaurant located off the Rothschild Boulevard on Nahlat Binyamin. It is connected to its more casual sister restaurant, Mizlala.

Founded 13 years ago, Catit is inspired by local Jewish and Arabic cuisines. Undoubtedly, its degustation menu reflects an Israeli culinary style that uses the country's unique ingredients, such as argan oil in Smoked Vichyssoise, a unique take to soup made out of leeks, cream and potatoes, and hyssop leaves on top of the dessert aptly called as the Galilean Pleasure.

Ratte potatoes, leek, honey and garlic cream, smoked trout gnocchi, grilled cabbage, macademian nuts, argan oil, twill ratte potatoe. Brioche with fennel seeds butter (not in photo).
A creamy pleasure of semolina cream, mascarpone, baharat, citrus flower water, strawberry compote, vanilla crumble, meringue, Persian lemon dust, aromatic olive oil and fresh hyssop leaves.
Appetizers started off with a light and refreshing blend of vegetables and herbs and a bite-size donut enough to open up my palette and senses.
Peas and tarragon hot cream, white asparagus.
Donut with lemon and elder flowers on a bed of marbles. I had to check if the black stones were edible.
Delicate presentation. Steamed parsley gel filled with semolina and gruyere cream
With its intimate setting, it was easy to spot the couples on a date, families celebrating an event and the lone diner aka food blogger, yours truly, snapping photos away. While waiting for my next course, an older lady chatted with me as she was about to make her way to the exit and asked where I was from. After I replied, she told me that her husband built the iconic Manila Hotel. The conversations I get into as a food blogger always entertain me, like the one I also had in Seville, Spain.

My entree, the Mediterranean Passion, was a disappointment. Although the cream with saffron gave the dish a distinct flavor, there was only one not-so succulent shrimp and the risotto was undercooked to my dismay.
Sea bass baked in salt, Acquerello risotto, shrimps with Bouillabase butter, saffron, pernod, baby fennel baked in tangerines and rouille foam
The palette cleanser came in a form of ricotta and sorbet. I was not a big fan of cheese and sorbet together. Individually, however, each stood its own ground. The crunchiness of the pine nuts gave the savory ricotta texture, while the grapefruit with campari made the sorbet more interesting.
Grapefruit and campari sorbet, ricotta, pine nuts lime and basil oil
There are many ways that Catit can improve its service to get its first Michelin star. Besides the fact that the fine-dining, quiet ambiance gets loud from time to time due to the louder music seeping through their door from Mizlala, the servers also have to polish up their uniforms, or the lack thereof, and explain, i.e. memorize, the dishes in better fashion. I am glad that I was able to experience Israeli modern cuisine, and I hope for greater things to come for Catit and its team.

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