On an unremarkable suburban shopping strip, Tavlin stands proudly on its corner serving a steady flow of regulars and curious newcomers.
Photos of Israel bring colour to the interior: spices at the Machane Yehuda market; pilgrims at the Western Wall in Jerusalem; and the centrepiece – chef and owner Adi Daboush’s grandmother, Ester, in her kitchen. She taught Daboush many of the recipes that feature on his menu.
The food is honest to Middle Eastern tradition and uncomplicated in its execution. To start there is a sizeable selection of dips including tahini, chatzilim (an eggplant appetiser) and Daboush’s famous hummus (he makes 70 to 80 kilograms of it a week), and tasty sides such as the fried cauliflower or falafel with made-to-order laffa bread.
Tender marinated meats such as beef tenderloin, kofta and lamb are charcoal-grilled and served on steel skewers and best matched with a beer – the Israeli Goldstar perhaps, or a BYO wine. Dessert includes the sweet rosewater malabi. Finishing it off with a glass of fresh mint tea.
Tavlin also offers the grilled meats and falafels in wraps that are available for takeaway lunch – a convenient option because there’ll no doubt be return visits, even during the lunchtime rush.