Written by on March 18, 2012 in I Eat Haifa, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ben Gurion Street, Haifa, Israel

How I heard of this place: Douzan is one of those restaurants along Ben Gurion that I remember from the late 1990s and the early 2000s. That is not to say that it wasn’t there before, but that it’s been a staple of this Haifa strip since as far back as I can remember. My older sister, Mojgan took me there in the early days of my visits. Mojan recommended it to my parents and I when we were here three years ago, and I suggested it to Chris and our friends from Seattle who were meeting us for dinner.

Type of cuisine: “At”Douzan”, where East meets West, you will be surrounded by an oriental ambiance while enjoying the best of fusion cuisine.” What I consider to be fairly typical Haifa or Israeli cuisine is what is best enjoyed at Douzan. From hummus to kabob, from fried halumi salads to decadent, sweet pastries. The menu also includes pasta (ravioli, lasagna), for those craving something more familiar or looking to satisfy the carb urge. But overall includes mostly Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine plated in a very culinarily appetizing and tantilizing way.

Ambiance: The stretch of road on Ben Gurion between the Port of Haifa and the first terrace of the Baha’i Gardens is lined with restaurants. Each one nearly resembling the one before and the one across the street from it. Having dined at Douzan in the past, I knew it was a place worth returning to. The outdoor seating, alone is well worth the visit to Douzan. Extensive patio seating for dining outdoors is available for numerous diners, as is an indoor patio, with Christmast lighting creating a serene setting. Inside, the beautifully tiled floors, with carpet-like color and quality complement the boisterous red, sponged walls. The tall ceiling in amber tones complement the wood banisters that stretch across from end to end. Through wide, arched doorways one can see from the large front seating room into the bar area, the brick-red walls seamlessly interacting with the glass shelves of a plethora of bottled beverage options. Mismatched, yet elegant and well-worn tables, chairs and couches in the front room create a cozy, living room feel to the dining area in which the five of us were seated. Unframed paintings on the walls complement the color scheme of deep red tones meeting with the cream-colored walls at the corners. Grand, wooden doors with glass panes lead the way to the outdoor patio protected from the elements by thick, plastic walls. Sturdy, wooden tables are laced with Persian carpets in the same golden, blue and red tones found on the tiled floors, topped with glass to preserve their beauty and longevity. Springs protrude from the couch, but it’s pillows and cozy feel keep you comfortable and complaint-free. The entirety of the space is covered with something to intrigue and capture the attention, like candy for the eyes; the aroma of delectable cuisine, enticing the senses even more.

What I ordered: Chris came across the words, Kabab Halabi (70 NIS) and his attention could not be diverted. The kabab, grilled on cinnamon-flavored skewers came served with roasted vegetables and tahina. To his right, our fellow-Seattle-ite selected one of her favorite dishes: Rolettini (48 NIS), mixed cheeses rolled in fried slices of eggplant. Our two dining companions, at whose request this dinner was held, selected the Spinach Ravioli (48 NIS each) with pesto sauce. I selected my favorite, the Douzan Salad, fresh greens piled high with peeled carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, fried haloumi and almond slivers, in a fresh, light, lemon-vinaigrette. For dessert, Chris chose a layered mocha and hazelnut torte with crushed nut crust and white chocolate ganache, served with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle. He also chose a dish of ice cream (25 NIS): strawberry, coconut and mango. Our waiter offered us one portion of Mhalabyeh Douzan (25 NIS), milk custard topped with stewed dried fruits in rose water, on the house.

What I loved: My salad. Of course. The combination of sweet carrots in a slightly tart vinaigrette, accompanied by salty, warm, fried cheese cannot be beat.

Why I loved it: The space creates an air of warmth and cozy hospitality, the decor, eye-candy, while the food is a treat for the stomach.

Cost: Average to high (48-90 NIS per dinner entree)

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