Have you ever had a meal out and felt as if you walked out the door like a number? Even though you may have had an enjoyable meal, you feel as though you were processed through as the staff tries to turn over the tables for the next party.
Well, at Dalida in Tel Aviv, expect the polar opposite as the servers, management and owner present an eatery and watering hole where they want to get to know you by name and have your favorite table waiting for you.
Opening at 6PM, Dalida attracts an instant rush as they have a Sunday through Thursday 6-8PM Happy Hour where all the dishes (except the desserts) are 50% off making it one of the most affordable early bird specials in Tel Aviv.
The menu is divided into four sections: Appetizer,Nearly Large, Large and Dessert.
The Cured Salmon and Buffalo Mozzarella (24 NIS) is a fresh and tasty first course with a hint of seasoning though the Spicy Feta Brulee (21 NIS) seemed the star of the appetizer section and when they say it’s spicy they mean it. Served with a mini-loaf of their fresh baked bread, it’s also one of the more filling starters offered.
Dalida offers over a dozen Nearly Large items which are for the most part tapas size plates and include Steak Tartare and French Fries (58 NIS) Zucchini Puree,Grilled Artichokes and Croutons (48 NIS) and a Shrimp & Crab Ravioli in Crab Stock with Pastis, Greens and a Cured Egg Yolk (49 NIS).
There are only five listed Large entree dishes though each night there are specials which lends itself to the electric and eclectic atmosphere where just as many people come to drink as eat. Crispy Fish and French Fries (72 NIS) is a modest description of several small fried battered fish served whole on the plate with a homey tartar sauce that are easy to wolf down and were more apt to eat as finger food than using utensils.
The Minute Steak from Filet Mignon with Root Vegetable Puree & Spatzle in a Garlic-Sage Butter (128 NIS) offered beef that was succulent, tender and well seasoned, the puree left me wanting for more and the spatzle noodles reminded me of German restaurants I used to frequent in the US.
The desserts are far from an afterthought and with their Chocolate Mouse,Banana Crisp Crumble and Hazelnut Tuile (36 NIS) sold out, I was pleasantly distracted from this privation by their sumptuous and scrumptious Cheese Mouse, Fruit di Bosco and Almond Crumble (36 NIS) served in a parfait glass.
But, don’t forget, Dalida is also a popular drinking spot with several house cocktails, wines and beers served at bargain prices. Most of the wines can be purchased in 220 ml glasses, 500ml carafes or 750 ml bottles with most bottles at about 140 NIS and most carafes under 100 NIS, the quality of the wines at these prices are tempting though the glasses are tumblers which might make some wine snobs shudder, it’s not that uncommon in European bistros and lends itself to the casual confines. The beers and cocktails come in 220 ml,500 ml or 1 liter servings and few diners didn’t have a pitcher at their table.
Drink specials were listed on three rolls of butcher paper posted on one wall in case you somehow forget that you don’t have to ask twice for drinks at Dalida and often the staff will ply you with a shooter without asking. The kitchen stays open until 1 AM or the last customer (a common Israeli closing time) and their cocktails are about 30 % off after 11 PM. With their affordable happy hour, it’s a nice first date destination or a regular stop on the way home from work. With shots coming to the table frequently courtesy of their gregarious staff, it’s also a nice place to unwind with their pervasive yet not pounding funky playlist setting the scene for a playful night out.
Dalida is a welcome addition to southern Tel Aviv’s growing stable of happening hangouts and with their twist on local fare and their charming, attentive and gregarious staff, they’ve found a niche of favoring what’s fun over what’s fancy though not so over the top so Dalida lends itself for a visit on a weeknight or a weekend
Dalida, 7 Zvulun Street, Tel Aviv,Israel Phone: 03-536-9627 Hours: 6pm to 1am (or the last customer)