Saturday, November 26, 2011
Manta Ray (Tel Aviv) 11/2011
There is something about beach restaurants that is especially appealing at sunset or when one sees the rolling waves and beach activities or even at night if there are lots of lights about but, unfortunately none of these things applied when we ate at Manta Ray last night. It does have a marine atmosphere without trying too hard. The signage is a canvas sheet with the restaurant name stuck on the wall! Shaped a bit like a ship it has wooden posts supporting the ceiling with lanterns hanging from them. The floor is bare, wide wood planks with plenty of fresh air, for us cold drafts. Decor is extremely simple featuring a lot of wood. Table settings include linen cloths and napkins. Here our friends pay rapt attention to our scintillating conversation.It was close to full but service was reasonably prompt with explanations as needed. The menu is in Hebrew and English. They are noted for their appetizers. A waitress arrived with a tray with a dozen small entrees NIS19 or about A$6.50 ea. and magnificent foccaccio hot bread with butter or oil and balsamic vinegar We selected four entrees, prawns in a spinach mango salad, a ceviche, an eggplant dip almost like a mousse and a parsley salad with eggplant and nuts. Other options included fresh sardines, deep fried tofu with beets a tuna salad other salads. They do have meat on the menu but one hardly comes to a fish restaurant for that. We had no hesitation in ordering the baked whole blue bream with haloumi cheese, endives, olive paste, a small sweet roasted red pepper and baby tomatoes on the vine. The other main we tried was a large fillet of very fresh and moist groper with the finest gnocchi which had been lightly pan fried with cashews in a superb lemon butter coriander sauce. The bream is a little bony but, with care, the flesh can be separated from almost all the bones, which are quite small. The flesh was fit for a king with a subtle flavour, Dessert was a deconstructed kadaiff which worked really well. The pastry was crisp, the sorbet, one with honey flavour, the other with a little fruit in it, countered with slivered almonds and little cubes of jelly and sweet figs made a beaut combination which we enjoyed looking at as well as eating.We enjoyed a bottle of Israeli wine, a Binyamin 07 Reserve shiraz, which seemed very inexpensive at about A$38A simple appropriate venue for the good food they serve.