The term "Chef Restaurant" is batted around quite a bit. You will understand the meaning of the term when you dine at Mapu Restaurant.
Mapu is an urban Tel Aviv restaurant named for the street where it is located. Mapu is Chef Nir Zook's private restaurant in the Prima City Hotel. The restaurant dominates the lobby entrance with additional seating in an outdoor patio which is covered in the winter. The restaurant brings The Prima hotel great prestige. Chef Nir Zook has a wealth of experience and a glorious history in a host of Israeli restaurant. Mapu is his first kosher restaurant, and he has no problem meeting this challenge.
The restaurant is open to guests of the hotel all other diners during the week, and on Friday night with payment in advance. Keep that in mind when you look for a good kosher Friday night meal in Tel Aviv on Shabbat.
Chef Zook uses the classic Mediterranean palate of olive oil, garlic, lemon and classic local herbs such as parsley and zatar. But to call the cuisine at Mapu Mediterranean, is to miss the point. The cuisine is best described as Zookian. Every dish has Chef Zook's unique signature. This is characterized by very high end materials, pleasing combinations and blends of textures, which makes for outstanding dining.
Also unusual at a chef restaurant, at Mapu you can actually meet Chef Nir Zook as he circulates among the guests, greeting people getting their impressions. Dining at Mapu is a chance to meet a real live celebrity and to rub up against an artist.
The menu offers a good selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The veggie dishes that we tried included healthy rather than high-carb foods. We were impressed with the use of Jerusalem Artichokes rather than potatoes and the variety of veggie dishes. Salads that blend the textures of fresh cut vegetables, legumes, flavored with eggplant cream and topped with kadaif, are the earmarks of Chef Zook's talent. The chef can make any food into a specialty food. It is a joy to behold. Their slogan "Fun + Fine Dining." is more accurately "Joy + Fine Dining."
Design is an important part of the Mapu Restaurant dining experience.
In addition to the great flavors, the dishes are all beautifully presented. The restaurant decor is clean and modern in black and white with a very urban feel. The glistening bar at the entrance is a focal point and the source of some of the best cocktails that we have tried.
About the Mapu Restaurant Menu
Every item that hits your table is unique, from the cold water in your glass to the dessert. The culinary adventure started with glasses of ice cold water flavored with anise and lemon juice. Not slices of lemon, but cold water with the subtle flavor of anise.
Cocktails? You bet.
We chose a fresh fruit cocktail– frothy drink with melon base decorated with a large chunk of green melon. This was a very tasty, not too sweet, fun drink. I am not sure whether this drink had alcohol or not. We know our cocktails and this was one of the good ones.
We started our meal with the Focaccia, a long thin loaf served on a marble slab. These slabs are on the tables when you arrive and till the focaccia is served you will wonder what this is about. Warm and crispy, the bread is meant to tear apart and not cut with a knife. The focaccia is served with a bowl of sharp red horseradish sauce, tapenade of grape leaves, and a bowl of green olives.
In many restaurants the appetizers are more interesting than the main courses. The appetizers at Mapu are amazing, but they do not outdo the main courses. The dishes were generous, as a policy, so go easy. There will be food.
We chose one meat appetizer and one veggie. The Veal Regalo is an appetizing platter of crispy rolls filled with ground veal and herbs. The rolls were cut into 8 bite-sized pieces and served on a platter covered with mint leaves and bits of lemon. These are to be eaten with your fingers, leaves and all. There are enough pieces to share as a starter.
The Jerusalem Artichokes Confit + Tomato was a non-meat eater's dream. This is a platter of Jerusalem Artichokes drizzled with tehina and sprinkled with a seasoning . In the center is a mound of cherry tomatoes with a light dressing. Jerusalem artichokes have the consistency of potatoes with a mild sweet taste, The tehina and seasonings were a perfect enhancement to this healthy vegetable.
When visiting a restaurant for the first time. I usually stay clear of the salads as they do not necessarily show off the chef's talents. Though not our first choice the restaurant was anxious for us to taste the Mapu Salad with Kadaif. Turned out that this salad truly expressed the Zookian culinary style which mixes not just flavors but also textures. The chopped green salad flavored with zatar and an open hard boiled egg sat upon a layer of eggplant crème. A large length of kadaif was placed on top for crunch and sweetness. Turn over the salad, we were told, and take portions with the kadaif. Wow. This was an amazing dish. .
It was hard to imagine that the Chef Zook's main courses could outdo the appeatizers , bit impress they did.
The Meat tortellini is a beef-lovers’ dish. This came as a bowl of tortellini with chunks of beef, in a pool of beef gravy. The beef was reminiscent of a good goulash but with an outer coating of pasta. Save some focaccia for the beef gravy, .
True to his style, the fish dish was a combination of fish nuggets cooked together with vegetables but in the Zookian style topped with crunchy rice noodles. This was a unique dish that I recommend without reservation.
The Mediterranean menu, as the restaurant location in the Prima City hotel, almost touches the sea. You can enjoy a stroll on the fabulous Tel Aviv seaside promenade after your dinner. We recommend booking in advance
The restaurant can host events of all types, private or business, up to 50 guests. The restaurant caters for smachot in their on-site private room (1st floor with an elevator). This room can accommodate up to 35 guests. The facility is also available for Shabbat events - bar mitzva or sheva brachot. You will be serving your guests the very best when you make your simcha at Mapu.
Parking: There is pay parking at the hotel. The reception desk will allow you admission.
From the Mapu Dinner Menu:
Mapu Restaurant prides itself on fair and reasonable prices. We note that there are a variety of
dishes and the prices range. Mapu is such a unique restaurant that we recommend that you open your pocket book a bit and enjoy the menu.
Mapu chopped salad + tahini & eggplant cream– NIS 44,
Jerusalem Artichoke Confit NIS 54
Veal regalo NIS 64
Chicken puttanesca gnocchi, tomatoes + chili + garlic NIS 46
Goose tortellini + capers NIS 48,
Fillenion + artichoke casserole. NIS 138
Chicken Ballotine stuffed with veal + pistachio nuts. NIS 76
Prime rib steak + baladi fried potato + rosemary aioli NIS 45 per 100 gr