Plenty of restaurants have delays when trying to open. It’s so common that you might be able to think of a couple of places that are having that issue right now. But when you’re trying to open a fine-dining restaurant in Manhattan in March of 2020, delays will really throw your plans out the window.
Tal Aboav was trying to get Rothschild TLV off the ground right when COVID shut everything down. He was finally ready to go when the city allowed restaurants to open… for takeout.
“Trying to make fine dining work for takeout was tough,” Aboav said. “It was basically me working alone in the restaurant and trying stuff out.”
As the owner and executive chef, Aboav used that time to develop not only his menu, but his staff. With many restaurants closing for good, he had his pick of the litter when it came to staffing the restaurant.
But getting people “in the door” when they weren’t allowed to walk in the restaurant was an interesting undertaking. Aboav has made quite the culinary tour of the world with stops in Israel (where he’s from), Europe and Miami before making his way to New York City. He utilized all his contacts around the industry to build a following for Rothschild on Instagram. From there, he let his food do the talking. Word of mouth filled his outdoor seating (still present with 40 seats) before he was finally able to open up his dining room (seats 60) when restrictions eased.
Now Aboav is really getting a chance to show everyone what he can do. He’s taken the Israeli cuisine as a canvas and used a range of paint brushes from an international palette to create a truly unique menu with flavors and ingredients that you might not expect to see work in concert together. Every dish is well thought out and you can instantly tell the personal effort behind Aboav’s creations.
When I was invited to experience Rothschild TLV’s unique style, I was impressed by the cozy feel of the place. One interesting feature that you’ll surely notice is that the booths on the right wall are raised up by one step from the rest of the floor. This added separation from the thoroughfare of the seating area makes for some added intimacy and works especially well in the seats opposite the bar where patrons are almost at eye level with the bartender despite being seated. It’s not unusual to see a patron from one of the booths asking the bartender for advice on which of the signature cocktails to order without either of the parties having to move from their positions.
If you want to start your meal with a salad, you can’t go wrong with the Bluefin Tuna Crust Salad. A mound of slaw is hidden inside the interesting combination of the tuna on one side, sliced avocado on the other and jalapeno on top. The tuna features a delightful crust and sensational texture as it brings this plate together nicely.
In terms of hot appetizers, the Black Risotto cannot be overlooked. Using forbidden rice and a corn cream, this is the best non-dairy risotto I’ve ever tasted because the creaminess is almost unbelievable. The wild mushrooms, truffles and short rib adds a real depth of flavor to the base and makes it a truly unforgettable bite.
One interesting creation that you might want to try is the BBQ Flatbread. The interesting factor in what might not seem at first to fit on the menu is that they use the Jerusalem House Bread (which you can get as a side) as the base. Topped with za’atar and sesame, it provides a great crunch and a stable platform for the beef, avocado, grilled corn, pickled red onions and jalapeno. When taking a bite, you’ll get that amazing “crunch and mush” combination that plays so well together while also enjoying a sweet and savory pairing that speaks for itself.
A recent addition to the menu is the Ras El Hanout Chicken. The name of the North African spice blend is Arabic and effectively translates to “top shelf.” This dish isn’t just a token chicken entry on the menu. Served with some Moroccan spiced vegetables and couscous, this may be the juiciest and most tender chicken you’ve ever tasted. The skin is crispy and packed with flavor and you get an entire half bird as your portion so you can appreciate both the white and the dark.
While Rothschild isn’t a steakhouse, that doesn’t mean they don’t have steak if that’s what you’re looking for. The Cowboy steak is a great option for sharing as they will carve it off the bone and slice it for you. It comes with an amazing demi-glace that really brings out the flavor and a side of perfect fingerling potatoes. Perhaps it’s a less adventurous choice, but it’s done so well that you likely won’t regret it regardless.
Rothschild TLV is certainly on par with the top restaurants in the city. That list may be highly populated with steakhouses, but an entry like this one is certainly a welcomed change of pace. There isn’t really another place like it, so you’ll just have to go and try it out for yourself.
Meat – Modern Israeli Fusion – Waiter Service
Sunday-Thursday: 12:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 90 minutes after Shabbat –
1129 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10075
Orthodox Union (OU)
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].