Old Man & the Sea, Jaffa

2013-06-29

Old Man at the Sea, 83 Kedem, Jaffa

The Old Man and the Sea in Jaffa offers a wonderful family style fish restaurant.  Situated close the sea itself, it is an ideal spot to enjoy a filling meal with friends and family and grants you the opportunity to walk off the nights feast with a picturesque view of the Mediterranean.

The restaurant is a fast and frenzied atmosphere, with people laughing and having full conversations.  The waiters are working hard bringing out the food, and clearing the tables to accommodate the many people waiting to get in.  The variety of fish is incredible.  Fresh filets, or grilled to perfection, the servers will offer a suggestion on what dish will satisfy your craving.  What makes the Old Man and the Sea so incredibly liked is the fact that is amazing value for a Jaffa/Tel Aviv restaurant.  Most fish is moderately prices at 90NIS, but this includes an incredible array of small salads and dips including, falafel, cabbage, tahini, hummus, pickles, olives, eggplant, etc.  In fact, these appetizers all arrive in small white life-boats and overwhelm the table begging you to pick and choose which flavours you want to fill up on before you main meal.  But beware… don’t get too carried away with the fresh warm pita and sides! You won’t have space for the delicious fish (and meat) dishes you already ordered.

Dishes

  • Barbunia fish 89 NIS
  • Denise fish 89 NIS
  • Salmon steak x 2 178 NIS
  • Mushrooms 35 NIS
  • Laffa, lemonade and fried dessert (included with main meal)
Total 391 NIS

Rating

3forks-blargright

Jaffa Restaurant on a Friday Night

spirited awayWhen a friend suggested we celebrate our Friday night Shabbat Dinner at a place called the Old Man and the Sea I couldn’t resist.  The name of the restaurant made me feel like I would step into an old 1980’s movie about a wise old man that held the secret to everlasting youth, or a treasure long buried.  Kind of like the Goonies, the cartoon epic The Last Unicorn or a film by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki.

Caroline, Lolita, Neil and I jumped into a taxi and made our way to  .  I pictured the original owner i.e. The Old Man, to be immortalized in a bronze sculture fighting a huge squid — something like a combination of Jacob and the Angel and Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.  There is something very magical about Jaffa that can only be explained when you actually go there.

As for the restaurant, I was to be honest, a bit surprised.  Perhaps it was my own ignorance, but it was run mostly by Israeli Arabs, and very casual.   It’s not like I was expecting fine dining, but fish restaurants i’ve been to in the past always tend to be a) expensive and b) a bit pretentious, especially the ones by the sea.  As if by the very fact that you can look out into the sea and pretend like that’s where the fish you are about to eat is coming from means you must pay a premium.  (Of course I can’t imagine the rent in restaurants like California or Vancouver, two places I resided. But you understand my frame of reference)  The Old Man however, well it was as pleasant as can be.

HaZaken VeHaYam/The Old Man and the Sea

Once you sit down you are welcomed by your waiter with over 25 small life-boats of Mediterranean salads – babaganoush, humus, tahina, pickled veggies, olives, corn salad, beet salad, another kind of beet salad, falafel balls, red cabbage, green cabbage, regular eggplant, and many more iterations – it would make a tapas bar spin its head.

Caroline decided to start asking our waiter how this all worked, but I had to stop her in her tracks.  The waiter was deftly tossing these mini-salads our way with such precision and speed I didn’t want to break his concentration.   As the life-boats stacked up, laffa bread was delivered along with a huge picture of lemonade.

And we haven’t even got to the main courses.

The waiter was pretty quick to ask if we wanted to order the mushrooms, and since I was the only one who spoke any decent amount of Hebrew I accepted.  I suggest you do too, it was a pretty decent portion, and if you were going to glutton out on all the salads, why leave any option behind?

By the time we got to ordering our main courses I was stuffed, but it would seem silly to go out to Jaffa and not order fish.  Which we all did. Some review sites say the food is cheaper at the Old Man than most fish restaurants and for where it is and what you get I would agree.  I think North American cheap is very different than Israel cheap.  If I’m not mistaken all our main dishes were 89 NIS each. Which for a fish restaurant is pretty decent.

This is definitely a place where you want to go with a large group of people.

 

Money aside, I think the most important part of the meal was how lively it was in the restaurant. This is definitely a place where you want to go with a large group of people.  There must have been several birthdays that evening because every twenty minutes they would break out into the birthday song and a group of waiters would deliver lovely looking desserts with a sparkler in it.  We all partook in the clapping, which I think is standard for all family style restaurants.  Afterall, you don’t want to look like an outsider.  Caroline was so caught up in the experience she wanted to pretend to have a birthday at our table.  I was took stuffed to argue, but thankfully she didn’t follow through.

The restaurant is very family oriented with many kids and families dining all around on tables that seat minimum 4 and as many as 12 (if not more.) It’s not an intimate restaurant by any means.  If you go there for a date, save the romance for the walk by the sea.

Maybe being in the magical aura of the “Old Man and the Sea” the four of us joked a lot about many non-family friendly topics.  Like what is your fantasy or fetish.  I was impressed at how open my friend were, and their honesty is a trait I value in them.

daddy-issues-star-was-why-leah-became-a-stripperIt’s not everyday you can openly talk about what’s on your sexual fantasy menu.  Many people don’t realize what they are into until it happens.  You could be in a fight with your girlfriend and she could throw cold cooked spaghetti and in the heat of the moment you say “Why did you do that?  And can you do it again!”  That’s all it takes.  One day you have a very vanilla sex life and thenext you are wearing a fake moustache and asking your partner to call you John Matrix.  We also discussed the sliding scale relationship between “daddy issues” and how crazy-good your sex life is.  It’s not incredibly complicated but I’ll leave it out for now.  (Email me if you want me to explain further.)

After a raucous conversation we decided to walk off the food by going through Jaffa.  With just enough sense of adventure we weaved in and out of the Jaffa streets finding some of the unique architecture and sculptures.

oldman-whale

caption for testing

Final Word

Whatever your fantasy Jaffa is definitely a place to check out.  I think the Old Man and the Sea give you a great opportunity go exploring outside of Tel-Aviv without getting too far away from home.  The fish is cooked exceptionally well – grilled well without over doing it, light and tender.  The salads offer enough variety and with unlimited refills you may go over board.  The offered a fried dessert of mini sticky sweet donuts but after trying one I figured it wasn’t worth over-stuffing myself anymore.  I want to give this Old Man a hug, it’s definitely worth coming back.

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