★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Middle Eastern, Meat, North African
89 Ben Yehuda
Sunday-Thursday (10:30 – 24:00)
Friday (10:00 – An hour before Shabbat begins)
Odelia is a secret treasure of Tel Aviv. It’s the type of restaurant you feel proud of discovering and the kind of experience you want to share with everyone you know. And to be honest, the sensation wasn’t inspired by the restaurant’s food, which was certainly good, but not the best I’ve ever had.
We went to Odelia in search of kosher, but cheap, meat. And boy, did we find it. The main dishes were 30 shekels (they also had 40 shekel, larger servings of some of the meals) and there was no lack of options. The food was largely North African, with hummus dishes as appetizers and a variety of meat dishes as mains. Sides consisted of majadera (rice with lentils and onions), rice, couscous with roasted vegetables, salad, and French fries.
We ordered hummus with a lemon-garlic drizzle, which came with an incredibly spicy skhug-like dip (but far spicier than the skhug I usually eat, which is made from hot red or green peppers seasoned with coriander, garlic, and a variety of other spices). We ended up wishing we had saved the hummus and pita for later so that we could have made pitas stuffed with our meat entrees. We didn’t fret over it too much, though, already figuring that it wouldn’t be our only visit to Odelia.
For my main dish, I struggled between the merguez and the chorizo and ultimately settled on the merguez, after asking the waiter what he recommended and concluding that the spicier merguez would better satiate my appetite. Beyond being excited for the tasty-sounding meat, I was excited for the two sides that came with it. Naturally, I chose French fries as one of my sides. The waiter recommended the couscous as my second side; I figured he knew what was best, so I listened to his advice and ordered the couscous.
Meanwhile, Doug ordered mafrum, which is cinnamon-flavored ground beef wrapped in eggplant or potatoes (Doug got the eggplant version) atop a bed of couscous and roasted vegetables.
Upon receiving my meal, I couldn’t help but wish I had ordered the 40 shekel version of it rather than the 30 shekel one. While there was absolutely no lack of food on my plate, I only received two merguez sausages, and they were good. They were wonderfully spiced, with just enough chili and garlic flavoring to make me want to finish them off before touching my fries or couscous. The couscous, meanwhile, was well-seasoned and tasty. I wasn’t a huge fan of the roasted vegetables that accompanied the couscous, but that may be attributable to my dislike of onions, which were prevalent. The fries, meanwhile, definitely hit the right spot. They were the perfect side for the spicy merguez (but then again, I suppose I’d consider fries the perfect side for any meal…)
Doug’s entrée was also good, but was unfortunately a little cold upon arrival. He loved the couscous and vegetables and was quite happy to help me finish mine.
After our waiter whisked away our cleaned plates, a different server came to ask if we would like some tea “on them.” Once we clarified that the tea was actually complimentary, we gladly accepted and spent another half hour or so lingering at the restaurant over the warm nana tea (tea with fresh mint leaves). We spent a few of those minutes discussing excitedly how incredibly affordable (more accurately: incredibly cheap) the dinner was, especially by Tel Aviv standards. We eventually left quite satisfied with our meal and experience, determined to return once more.
Also posted on the Taste TLV blog: http://tastetlv.blogspot.com/2011/10/odelia.html