Shila, Tel Aviv

BATD ON Aug 19, 2013 AT 10:05 am

by Chrissy Iley

I woke up thinking about tahini panna cotta with sesame crumbles and black cherry sorbet. It may well have been the best tahini panna cotta I’ve tasted – actually it’s the only tahini panna cotta.

In Israel the tahini is not just something beige and vaguely spreadable, it’s life itself. It’s intense, creamy, comforting. It has edge, it has contradiction, it’s unexpected, it’s more-ish. Who knew how round and full and huge a sesame could taste.

There’s also tahini ice cream, although not on the same menu.

Shila, Tel Aviv

I’d had several recommendations for Shila and was told you have to book. It looks quite unassuming with its glossy dark-stained wooden tables and friendly staff but when the first piece of warm rosemary focaccia with a tomato basil spicy dipping sauce arrives you know the food is statement.

I had a gorgeous zucchini carpaccio. It was served with basil, nuts and Tom’s cheese. There was also a beet salad that was heavenly crunchy and fragrantly fresh. It was accompanied with endive, spinach and nut oil. The nut oil being a kicking ingredient.

Afterwards there was purple calamari on eggplant salad, tomatoes and coriander on yoghurt, and chicken livers with roasted onion and spinach in an incredible sauce.

I admired gnocci with crab meat and crystal shrimp, black pasta with mussels and sage sauce and green risotto with garden vegetables and calamari.

Fish prices are set by the Jaffa Fish Exchange early that morning, so they vary, but a set lunch, which they called a Business Lunch, starts from 79 Shekels, about £16.

The chef owner is Sharon Cohen. I like the idea that Sharon can be a boy and the restaurant itself was named after his much-loved dog.

At night time it becomes destination dining and one of the most sought after hot spots.

Shila, 182 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv. Tel: +972-57-9439018.

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