Hatachana. The new/old Tel Aviv train station is the new hot attraction in Tel Aviv, with lovely restaurants, stylish shops, and a generous helping of Israeli history. Regina meat restaurant is a pioneer in this recently opened location. It is a tossup as to whether Hatachana will bring the visitors to Regina or if Regina restaurant will bring the visitors to Hatachana.
Hats off to the city of Tel Aviv for the wonderful renovation of this city landmark. Originally one of Montifiore’s projects, the train station developed over a period that includes the Templers and the British. Original buildings, some 100 years old, are renovated and beautified. It is very exciting architecturally and I am sure that each building comes with a good story.
Regina restaurant is housed in the former home of the train station guard (Nice perk for this job). This is a spacious restaurant with seating indoors and outdoors in the entrance courtyard and the back garden. This is an excellent venue for a simcha, and in fact the evening that we visited this restaurant there was a a bat mitzvah party in the garden.
Regina is a period restaurant. The dishes, the “look” and the objects are retro 1950’s. Take a look at the vintage refrigerator (rounded corners) that is still working after 60 years. The food is served on glass dishes with a carved floral pattern on the underside of the glass – remember those from bubbie’s house?
The cuisine at Regina is ethnic, but from a variety of cultures including Eastern European, North African, Asia, etc., all prepared by a Yemenite chef. “Ayer Tzibilis” (eggs and onions) the standard in Eastern European households, are listed on the menu along with North African Green Tehina. The Regina special is an Iraqui dish that includes two sunny side up eggs. This recipe comes from the restaurant owner’s grandmother Regina, the namesake of this restaurant.
The restaurant was quite full when we visited on a mid week evening. We had reserved seats – highly recommended - so our table for two was waiting for us. The one page menu offered many foods from the Ashkenazi tradition, and some exotic offerings from other cultures. My companion chose the chopped liver appetizer and I went with the eggplant. Both had a home made flavor; the chopped liver was mixed with fried onions which gave it a sweet taste. The eggplant salad in tehina was a generous portion served on wide slices of eggplant. The portions were so large that either one of these starters could have done for the both of us.
Let it not be said that we are not experimental, as we had these appetizers with the Moroccan bread. The bread was served with olive oil and garlic sections.
For our mains I chose the traditional Ashkenazi stuffed pepper. The dish looked like it could have come right out of a Galiciana kitchen, complete with two slices of the obligatory potato. The single very large red pepper was stuffed, not with plain white rice but with rice that had a more up to date seasoning, unheard of in Galicia. The dish was tasty and satisfying but the cacophony of flavors.was unexpected.
My companion chose the spicy Moroccan fish main course. Spicy was the word, he said, taking another gulp of beer. The Amnun (St. Peter's fish) was served in a hot sauce with chili pepper, sliced potatoes, carrots and a bit of green pepper. If you like spicy food, this is your dish.
The service was prompt and personable. There was plenty of staff and every waiter/waitress was available to help us even if we were not sitting in his/her section. I appreciated the extra minute that the staff took to give us some historic background and to point out some of the period pieces.
Dessert? Take a guess. If you said apple strudel, you got the idea.
We passed on the dessert but most of the other tables had chosen flavored sorbet served in old-fashioned ice cream Sundae glass, very colorful indeed.
The bill for our two appetizers, two mains and two drinks (beer and a soft drink) came to a very reasonable nis 200. There are a variety of dishes and prices, with something for every pocketbook.
Bottom line: Regina is delightful experience. We loved the concept and we enjoyed the food. Hatachana is a must visit and Regina will top it off.
Entrance to Hatachana complex.
Getting There: Hatachana is at the southern end of Neve Tzedek, just north of Jaffa, on the eastern side of the coastal road. There is a convenient pay parking lot at the entrance to Hatachana. The best way to get into the lot is to start south of Hatachana. Drive north on Rechov Yerushalayim from Jaffa. At the space just between Jaffa and Tel Aviv you will see a large space that is currently blocked by construction material covered with posters marking Hatachana. Drive slowly because just after that space, and a row of bus stops, there is a turn off to the municipal pay parking lot. This is where you want to park.
The restaurant is in building 10, just a few steps from the entrance to Hatachana.