Written by on April 7, 2011 in I Eat Haifa, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(No website found at time of publishing) – 21 Ha-Ga’aton Blvd, Nahariya

How I heard of this place: My new friends, Logan & Alexis, Ashley and I were looking for a place to enjoy a late dinner, together, after our visit to Bahji. This was suggested as a good establishment that has plenty of options.

Type of cuisine: The menu runs from pasta, schnitzel, and Chinese food to fish, salads, and hamburgers. Photos on the walls remind you of the original tin-roofed Penguin and the bleak, empty landscape that was Nahariya in the 1940s.”

Ambiance: The Penguin is the nearest thing Nahariya has to a minimall, with a bookstore and many trendy shops surrounding the dining space.” Two, larger than life-sized, plastic penguin waiters, complete with tuxedos and painted aprons, greet patrons outside. Beyond the penguins is a large, raised, patio seating area outdoors. Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome you into the space through the glass, double-doors and into the hallway of this semi-minimall. The bookstore is closed at this nine o’clock hour, but chocolate gift boxes full of truffles and gold wrapping are still in the walkway between seating spaces. To the left and the right, as you enter, are two seating areas, partly booth-seating and other tables with chairs beside. The kitchen and pastry case are straight ahead and to the right, as you make your way back and towards additional, similar seating areas towards the back of the minimall. What looked like a couple of other closed shops are also at the left as you continue through the space. We sat ourselves on a slightly raised, two steps up, seating space with a banister around the area that overlooked other diners and the minimall. Red, faux-leather booth seating with cushioned seat and back, some places missing the red button that holds the cushions together, wooden tables with black, iron stands and lightly-cushioned chairs. Cookbooks and recipes from around the world are in the corner, upon built-in shelves, above which is found a mini iron rocking horse and wire-sculpted deer. Eclectic, fun, yet cozy and customer-friendly, this space has a little bit of everything.

What I ordered: Each of the four of us were able to find and eat exactly what we had said we wanted during the car ride over. I was interested in a halumi salad (53NIS), a large bowl of cold salad, lettuce, tomato and cucumber, topped with freshly warm and sauteed mushrooms, walnuts and onions in a teriyaki sauce, topped with fried, cubed halumi cheese. The dining companion to my right ordered the chicken breast (54NIS), an herb marinated grilled chicken breast served with a side of mashed potatoes. Directly in front of her, our dining companion, and driver, selected the B.B.Q. chicken (55NIS), a sauteed chicken and vegetable medley tossed in a home-made BBQ sauce, and served with his choice of side: mashed potatoes. Seated in front of me, our dining companion was craving steak, and ordered just that, grilled sirloin (67NIS) served on a bed of fried onions, and a side of fries. The entire meal began with a very Israeli presentation of coleslaw, bread, butter, olives and chimichurri, shared like an appetizer among the four of us.

What I loved: The bread was fresh and tasted of toasted sesame seeds, perfect to melt the lightly salted butter, served in mini-scoops. The fried halumi was crispy and hot, and held the consistency of firm tofu inside, with a more salty flavor, perfectly accompanying the sauteed vegetables and salad. The only other thing I samped was the mashed potatoes, which were creamy, buttery and cloud-like.

Why I loved it: The company of friends, enjoying a new dining place and a walk along the Naharia boulevards, cleanly paved, with a river running through the center median made for a very pleasant and enjoyable evening.

Cost: Average (25NIS-70NIS per entree.

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