The centre of Tel Aviv, Diezengoff Square, isn’t like the centre of other major cities. There aren’t a thousand bored teenage tourists sitting on the Spanish Steps or under Eros passing time until their next Big Mac. What there is is a scruffy supermarket and a scruffier launderette. On the raised level, above the underpass, there’s a colourful fountain that has fire as well as water. Several times a day it revolves and dances to Ravel’s Bolero and I quite love it. The buildings around the square’s perimeter are curved in that beautiful Bauhaus way so it’s more of a circus than a square. On Tuesday and Friday there’s a bric-a-brac market you can wander through. The square is never deserted but it isn’t bustling, either.
Now there’s something else there. Dan opened the Nahat Café less than a year ago and I’m glad I found it on my recent trip to Israel. Good coffee isn’t hard to find in the city, nor are cafés, but Tel Aviv hadn’t, until Dan introduced it, known about the flat white. Dan, who worked for many years in the coffee industry, roasts his own beans in-house, a practice worthwhile just for the aroma. Of course, it also means the coffee is just so. Also, Dan will talk to you, entertainingly and informatively, about what he does and the rest of Israel’s food scene if you ask him to. The café is worth going to just to look at the beautiful, bespoke light fittings, but stay for the flat whites, too.
Two minute’s walk away, is the Lieselotte Café, which I also love. It’s run by a pair of sisters; Rony is front-of-house and Maya, a trained pastry chef, in the kitchen. There is a very relaxed, comfortable air to the Lieselotte. It sits on a lovely, tree lined corner of Reiness Street and there is much to enjoy here, but the cakes are something special. A large slice, and I mean large, is brought to you and it doesn’t just look beautiful. I especially recommend the yeasted chocolate and halva cake but my favourite is the raspberry and lime. If Maya ever reads this I’d love a recipe for it, which I will share.
Nahat, 94 Dizengoff, Diezengoff Square
Lieselotte, 20 Reines Street