This Popeye is not a sailor man. This Popeye is a kosher meat restaurant in the Herzlia Pituach Tech park. The restaurant is run by a family of Spanish-French olim, and specializes in traditional Spanish cuisine. The menu offers Paella and many other Spanish style foods. You will have a hard time finding kosher Spanish cuisine in Spain, so this is a great opportunity to widen your culinary experience.
About The Popeye MenuPopeye is primarily a meat restaurant with a nod to non-meat eaters. Meat dishes include steaks, chorizos, hamburgers and Spanish cold cuts. There is also a selection of fish dishes. The Popeye signature dish is Paella, a Spanish dish of rice, saffron, garlic, herbs and chicken or meat, cooked and served in a large shallow pan. A meatless variation can be requested, but any Paella aficionado will tell you that meatless Paella is a corruption of the concept.
Popeye's chicken and chorizo Paella is a must, and the signature dish of the restaurant. This is one of those comfort food dishes that I love – a sizzling pan of Spanish rice with herbs, topped with a leg and thigh of chicken that had been slow cooked to the point that it is falling off the bone, and garnished with thin slices of plancha-crisped chorizo hot dogs. I loved this dish and I will remember it for a long time!
Another meat specialty at Popeye, and a point of pride for this restaurant, is their unforgettable cold cuts. The cold cut platter, an appetizer on the Popeye menu, is actually large enough to be a main course. In the Hebrew menu this dish is described as a platter of smoked entrecote, chorizos and bresaola, an air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months. They prepare these cold cuts in-house at Popeye’s.
Paper-thin slices of cold cuts are served on a large platter with small boats of mustard, mayonnaise and pickles. This came with a basket of sliced whole wheat tomato-flavored bread, a side dish of a tomato salsa (not piquant!), and a small plate of olives. The waiter explained that in Spain, the tomato salsa is spread on the bread, and then the meat is layered on top making a kind of open-face sandwich. I preferred to eat the flavorful meat plain or with a bit of mustard. This is a very tasty dish, and the generous portion makes it a good dish to share.
Many dishes at Popeye are cooked Spanish style, on a Plancha, a very hot metal plate on which foods can be seared. The Plancha does not have to be greased, so Popeye uses very little Olive Oil. :-) The artichoke hearts dish with chorizo, garlic and herbs, from the Tapas menu, are prepared on the Plancha. The heart of an artichoke is cut lengthwise in wedges and grilled on the plancha until it is soft. The dish is seasoned with garlic cloves and herbs, and then garnished with slices of thin chorizo sausage that have been crisped on the plancha. The menu doesn’t list a meatless version, but we were told that the dish can be provided without the chorizos.
The Portobelo mushrooms, are also grilled on the plancha, with garlic, herbs and olive oil. The finely diced mushrooms seared on the plancha and the seasonings give the dish a sort of smoky, earthy flavor.
Other Spanish inspired dishes on the menu that will bring me back to this restaurant again include empanadas, fish dishes in the style of Seville and Gajano, kosher shrimp dishes, a grilled burgers, steaks and chops.
Popeye has invested in the comfort and aesthetics of the restaurant. The lighting is excellent; the tables are nicely spaced and the background music is bearable. There is outdoor seating if you prefer, and a second elevated section inside the restaurant that would be perfect for private parties. There is also a bar with a small selection of drinks, including beer on tap, and an eye-catching collection of French wines.
By the way, the owner’s name is actually Papi (pronounced like Popeye). Originally from Madrid, Papi lived in France, and made Aliya from Florida. This is a multi-language restaurant where you can speak in Spanish, French and English.
There is street parking on Maskit Street in the evenings, and a large parking lot directly across the street from the restaurant.
From the Menu: Artichoke hearts with chorizo, garlic and herbs: NIS 39; Cold cut platter: NIS 49; Portobello mushrooms with garlic, herbs and olive oil: NIS 29. Chicken and chorizo Paella NIS 79. Beef Paella NIS 85. Fish NIS 85 – 125. Popeye Burger NIS 69. Fillet Minion 220gr NIS 130.
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