Last updated March 13th 2016
HaTraklin, Heihal HaTalmud St 4, Tel Aviv
HaTraklin – הטרקלין. This Tel Aviv restaurant always has an air of mystery to it. Its intrigue began in 2013-2014 when Tripadvisor had rated HaTraklin #1 out of 1168 restaurants in the city. (Currently Shakshukia holds the number one position, while HaTraklin is at #4). There are so many wonderful restaurants in Tel Aviv that range from gastronomical delights like Catit, to eccentric, energetic and odd venues like Ha’Salon, simple but savory eateries like La Gaterie and specialty ethnic restaurants like Thai House. What makes HaTraklin so special?
And there in lies the mystery.
HaTraklin Meat and Wine Bistro is known for their steak dishes and their extensive wine collection that ranges in the hundreds. The food is decent, although expensive, and the atmosphere is a mix of peaceful elegance and old charm. What separates HaTraklin from many of the other restaurants is the attentive service. In a country where good consistent service is still rare, HaTraklin offers an exceptional experience for fine diners in Tel Aviv. While there were some small details that were lacking, HaTraklin excels at making you feel welcomed into their home, ready to be wined and dines.
However, for what Hatrkalin does right, it is hard to explain what would make this a number one restaurant.
The dishes do not seem particularly elaborate. The appetizers of Eggplant with Tahini and Yogurt, and the Chopped Liver were both simple but delicious starters — fairly standard for Tel Aviv restaurants. The tender and delightful Signature Steak is served with a hot stone that elicits various “oohs” and “ahhs” from the guests. Other dishes tasted fine, but felt as though plated somewhat haphazardly; The Steak Rocca was heaped together on the plate with wilted arugula (rocket). As was the Vegetarian Ravioli, and the Gnocchi with Truffle. Even the Grilled Artichoke’s dish came out messier than expected. Perhaps it is being nitpicky, but the food at HaTraklin never astounded our large party of twelve. (Two guests did not seem too impressed with the expensive steaks, but HaTraklin stepped up and offered up two gourmet desserts on the house. To HaTraklin’s credit, they really did go above and beyond to appease the diners.)
The desserts were fairly standard as well – The Chocolate Mousse was rich, yet plated very oddly (frankly no one should have food look like it’s already been digested.) The Gourmet Malabi was light and perfectly malabi-ish. The Tiramisu was delightfully unexpected – displayed in a semi-deconstructed way, with the rich cream resting on top of two lady fingers. The addition of black cherries gave a nice sharpness and sweetness to the creamy Tiramisu.
HaTraklin is located in an old nondescript building nestled in between residential housing in Neve Tzedek. The area is devoid of any sort of life typically found elsewhere in Tel Aviv. The insides reminds you of an abandoned 15th Century mansion; Large rooms, sparse decor. The large party room inside lacks warmth, practically empty aside from the typical table and chairs, and an empty wine shelf (or was it a book shelf?) Outside, HaTraklin’s patio fairs a bit better offering a romantic atmosphere in the gentle Tel Aviv weather, with soft lights decorating archways and large wooden tables. You may not realize it, but with the noise ordinance in the area there is no music playing outside. Sure, it is a small detail, but the only chorus for the evening is the chatter of others at your table.
Which brings us back to that nagging question. It is not to say that HaTraklin is not a fine restaurant, but how with such a large pool of restaurants is it number one? (It makes me really question the math behind the Tripadvisor algorithms.)
And then it dawns on me…
Dining at HaTraklin is like stepping into the pages of an Agatha Christie novel where you are guests to an elaborate dinner party hosted by an eccentric millionaire. Or better yet – It is like getting an invitation to a murder mystery dinner; sure you had fun but you ask yourself, “why did we come again?”
For our group of 25 to 35 year olds, none of us left HaTraklin with a strong urge to return. Perhaps HaTraklin caters to an older crowd – those seeking a quiet dining experience with local Israeli ingredients and a large array of Israeli wines. Maybe the small details of elegantly plated food, and a touch of music is not what makes a restaurant so special. Perhaps it really is in the service. And for that HaTraklin has that in spades.
HaTraklin puts the fine in Fine Dining. For the young at heart, looking for adventure Tel Aviv has other mysteries worth unraveling.
Dishes at HaTriklin
- Eggplant with Yogurt and Tahini 28NIS
- Chopped Liver 32NIS
- Chicken Livers with Feta 52NIS
- Carpacchio Sintah 52NIS
- Grilled Artichoke 58NIS
- Bruschetta 52NIS
- House Bread 18NIS
- Signature Steak w Hot Stone 132NIS
- Porter Steak House 298NIS
- Steak Rocca 118NIS
- Vegetarian Ravioli 86NIS
- Gnocchi with Truffle 65NIS (old price)
- Entrecote from a Fat Cow 168NIS
- Kebabs (Signa Aries) w roasted eggplant 96NIS
- Cherry Tiramisu 38NIS (old price)
- Chocolate Mouse 32NIS (old price)
- Gourmet Malabi (on the house)
- Sorbet (on the house)
*Please note prices have gone up since dining at HaTraklin about 20NIS.
HaTraklin Restaurant Rating
HaTraklin Tel Aviv