Adventures of Adelina (restaurant review)

Jerusalem Post, Weekend Magazine; January 3, 2008

Converted from the former cultural clubhouse of the kibbutz, Adelina is nestled in a quiet corner overlooking the beach and the kibbutz soccer field. Adelina maintained the original, naturally attractive stone design of the clubhouse, but the handsomely set tables and fine cutlery make one feel as if it were designed as a restaurant from the outset.

Adelina is named after Adelina Goldfeld, the founding chef who immigrated from Argentia in 1973. A kibbutz resident since 1980, Goldfeld studied at the prestigious Cordon Bleu in France and under renowned Spanish chef Feran Adria. The menu fuses Catalonian and Galilean cuisine with successful results.

The theme of the food was perfectly expressed in the sangria fruit cocktail which kicked off my meal: sensual, colorful, exotic and tasty. Adelina’s next Spanish offering was its signature “tapas journey” (NIS 115 for two), a cohesive platter of tapas, which in Spain refers to small, individual dishes usually served before a meal or with a drink. Usually I refrain from ordering tapas because I feel teased by the small helpings, but as soon as the eight tapas were spread out on the table, I knew I was in for a culinary ride. First I had to overcome my fear of ruining the resplendent display; it looked like a work of art.

The “tapas journey” artfully balanced meat, seafood, vegetables and cheeses. The beef carpaccio gave me an indication of the tapas’s high standards. The balsamic glaze and parmesan slices opened the fresh flavor and great texture of the deep-red beef. The expertly peeled grilled pepper with feta and minced calamari olives, while simple, was finely prepared. The Druse-inspired beef pastry, crispy dough wrapped around spicy, moist ground beef, was a triumph of taste and texture.

Two dishes should have been marked as aphrodisiacs. The bittersweet chocolate truffles filled with luscious pate and the aubergine cream so smooth it could have passed for a buttery dessert. The only ill-fated dish was the salty anchovy, which I quickly washed down with some sangria.

After this, who has room for another appetizer? But I took a bite out of the creative, crisp kadaif shrimp, a jumbo shrimp wrapped in this Arabic-style pastry dough.

One hundred percent mango sorbet smoothly cleared my palate for the entree.

While there was a respectable selection of gourmet entrees, I opted for a classic dish, beef fillet in wine (NIS 121). Sometimes a restaurant’s treatment of a classic dish is the best indication of its culinary prowess. At Adelina, this is certainly true. The beef was perfectly cooked “medium,” its grill marks visible, and its gentle red wine sauce adding depth while preserving the superb taste of the beef. The creamy, buttery potato mash and broccoli sides were deliciously yet simply seasoned, topped with grilled tomatoes and fennel.

For dessert, the server laid out sleeker cutlery to mark a shift in gears. I opted for the tapas dessert (NIS 52), a platter of four mini-desserts including a mango lemon tart, homemade pistachio ice cream, knaffe fingers and lemon cheesecake. While each tasted good on its own, after such a glorious journey, I think one simple dessert would have been a more settling landing.

Adelina, Kibbutz Kabri;
(04) 952-3707. Not kosher.

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