Folks visit Eilat from all over the world. Whether you are local or you come from abroad, you will find your favorite cuisine at Olla Restaurant. A visit to Olla is a worldwide culinary journey.
Avi Tangy is a seasoned restaurateur in Eilat. Originally from the entertainment world, Avi discovered the hospitality industry and founded many of the restaurants in the vicinity of Olla Restaurant. As he and his family came closer to the tradition, he sold his non-kosher restaurants and focused on kosher Olla and its sister Asian restaurant now under construction.
If ever a restaurant was invested, it is Olla. From many to just one, Avi makes sure that this restaurant is the best. God has rewarded him, he says, and the restaurant is always busy. Reservations are recommended.
We visited this restaurant for an early dinner mid-week. Even at this early hour we were impressed with the popularity of the restaurant and the diversity of the guests. There were couples, families with bar mitzva aged children, large families and small, and groups. One group appeared to be with an organized tour, and as we were leaving a large group of soldiers came in for an event. From the many different guests it was clear that the restaurant is appropriate for everyone, both price wise and in the variety of the food.
Olla is a large restaurant with several different spaces, depending on the size of your party and your preferences. There is seating on the entrance level, seating on a level a few steps up, and a space for small private parties. The seating throughout the restaurant is comfortable and inviting on upholstered furniture, couches, chairs and banquettes around the sides of the seating area. The dining space looks more like someone's living room, than a restaurant. The decor is eclectic with an international display of wall decorations. There is a bar and an impressive wine room.
Every dish on the menu has its provenance. Morocco, Turkey, France, Peru, India, Lebanon, and even a New York Hamburger. In any other location I would think these all imitation dishes, but in Eilat, with its diverse population, I have no doubt that the cuisine is authentic.
"What do you say about the Focaccia?" Avi asked. Not your standard focaccia, this bread is Sfinge, Moroccan donut dough, shaped into a loaf and fried rather than baked. This is served with olives and three dips garlic and aioli.
We started with a shared eggplant platter. This was a platter of small scoops of grilled eggplant, pools of techina, and a variety of vegetables, The idea was to scoop up a fork full of a mix of everything at once, for a full complement of flavors. And that works.
Olla is primarily a meat restaurant. There is a variety of fish dishes, vegetarian and even a vegan menu, but the star of the show is the meat which comes from Brazil and from Ramat Hagolan. Avi calls the restaurant "A Temple of Meat." where it is aged in house and prepared in a variety of ways.
The menu offers several ceviche meat dishes (cured) and a great variety of cooked meat dishes.
My companion chose the lamb kebab dish served with techina and sliced eggplant. The presentation was very attractive with 3 kebab each on a mound of tahina layed out on the length of an oblong dish. The lamb was tasty and juicy, and the combination with tahina is a tradition in the Middle East. The default cooking intensity is medium so if you prefer your meat well done, be sure to mention it.
The restaurant uses their tabun oven to prepare foods with the unique smoky flavor. My whole Levrak fish was first wrapped and then baked in the tabun. I prefer my fish well done, and the restaurant was quite cooperative about topping it off in the oven.
Kosher Eilat restaurants work hand in hand with the Rabbanut. The mashgichim are paid by the moetza and not by the restaurants. So the mashgiach is an independent authority. Also, many of the kosher restaurants are owned by shomrei mitzvot. So ka\shrut is more than a financial motivation. While we were at the restaurant the mashgiach was instructed to return the rice that had been delivered, as it did not meet the cleanliness standards of either the kashrut or the aesthetics of the restaurant.
Traditional Middle Eastern Malabi is a tart dairy dish. In recent years restaurants have tweaked this dessert for western tastes. Malabi today is a creamy dessert, made either dairy or parve, and is usually topped with sweet fruit.
One dish of the delicious ice-cream like Olla Malabi did it for us. We left the restaurant with a sweet flavor after a pleasant meal.
From the Menu: Starter NIS 42 - 54. Focaccia with dips NIS 24. Eggplant platter NIS 38. Foie Gras NIS 98. Sweetbreads NIS 84. Mains: Fish NIS 88/98/108. Meat mains NIS 78 - 138. Grill specials NIS 168/198. Veal NIS 45. New York Hamburger NIS 78.