With over 500 rooms and spacious conference halls, which regularly play host to a myriad of international business gatherings, Tel Aviv’s David Intercontinental Hotel attracts a wide range of foreign guests and business people. Many look to enhance their stay in Tel Aviv by seeking out a melange of culinary adventures, ranging from sampling street food in the nearby boisterous “shuk HaCarmel” (outdoor Carmel Mediterranean market) to tempting their curious palates with a quiet, elegant dinner in the hotel.
The David Intercontinental’s “Aubergine” restaurant has not only created a unique dining experience for visitors from the around the world, it is also considered to be one of the originators of high-end kosher culinary in metro Tel Aviv.
“Aubergine has been around for 15 years, so we are not remaking our restaurant like other major hotels who are trying to catch up on offering high-end kosher food, which is the hottest culinary trend in Israel right not just amongst tourists, but also within the Israeli food market itself,” revealed Alon Hirtenstein, Aubergine’s Executive Chef. “Aubergine was created because guests from across the spectrum, locals, foreign visitors and business people are actually looking for hotels, which offer this type of culinary experience. The other key advantage is that the restaurant is part of the hotel itself, meaning the hotel can invest towards purchasing the best ingredients to make sure the entire dining experience is of the highest quality.”
Chef Hirtenstein also injects a different kind of passion in his as he comes from a religious background and has eaten kosher his entire life.
“I actually see this as an advantage, which is why I’m so passionate about creating unique dishes using the ingredients that I know. I surprise my guests, whether they are religious Jews or non-Jews who have never eaten quality kosher food. I transform ingredients. I can take from the vegan world and use a non-dairy ingredient like tofu and make a Labane Tofu cream for a gravy or garnish on a main dish and diners will never know the difference. A good chef knows how to combine quality ingredients.”
Aubergine, located in the Atrium lobby, offers an Israeli-Mediterranean menu with a subtle hint of French culinary aesthetics and ambiance. “We have many European guests and business people who eat in the best restaurants European hotels have to offer, so we are not only offering an upscale kosher experience but also an air of European elegance. This shift is now occurring all over Israel’s hotel industry as well,” added Chef Hirtenstein.
“We showcase many dishes and salads with lots of fresh tomatoes and tehina, which gives you a colorful and tasty introduction to our two most popular main dishes, veal chops, where the meat comes from a great cattle farm on the Golan Heights, and ceviche, a delicious seafood offering, where one day we might feature fresh grouper fish and on another day, we would make it with fresh salmon,” said Chef Hirtenstein.
Having spent several years apprenticing in Aubergine before taking the helm nearly three years ago also allowed Chef Hirtenstein to not only enhance his culinary repertoire but also to understand how to entertain his customers, without ever getting bored. “As a rule, we will adjust the menus based on the seasons and holidays. The hotel wants its foreign guests and business people to enjoy the best food they can find in Tel Aviv and beyond which highlights a different level of service and a true culinary experience.”