I discovered Cafe Noir about 10 years ago when I was managing a property in the Rothschild Blvd. area of Tel Aviv. In search of a good spot for lunch I stumbled upon what a lawyer friend of mine called, “A Tel Aviv Institution”. In their current website, they date the cafe ‘since 1997’ but it seems like it has a longer history having been built in the famous “pre-eclectic” period, the Nahmani region of Tel Aviv built in the 1930’s. The pre-eclectic period architecture of elaborate facades and intimate balconies that resemble Paris and Prague mix with Bauhaus buildings of the same period. The interior of the cafe feels like they took the ornate wooden counter bar area of an old drugstore fountain and decorated the rest along that theme.
Seating outside is populated well on nice days in the mild Tel Aviv winters, inside the wrap-around enclosed balcony is popular for air-conditioning in the hot, humid summers there. The atmosphere is old European with a modern, busy bistro feel. I havent had a food or drink order there that disappointed me, but we come for the shnitzel which is big enough for two to split with potatoes and side salad or plenty for one hungry person. The specials change regularly and the restaurant is most definitely not kosher.
Calling Cafe Noir for a reservation reveals the clue of the famous shnitzel. The phone menu starts: 1. “for reservations dial 1″, 2.”for shnitzel delivery dial 2”. One of the secrets of great shnitzel or any fried chicken, in my opinion, is not letting the oil get to hot to darken the breading but hot enough to not soak into the chicken. This success is learned best through experience. The Cafe Noir shnitzel is perfection, paper thin and done exactly right.
The famous local news outlet, Haaretz, gave away their secret recipe which I share below:
Ingredients (serves 6)
A wide pan filled with 3 cm of vegetable oil (canola/soy) for frying
Plate filled with 200 grams of flour
60 grams Dijon mustard
500 grams breadcrumbs
10 grams table salt
5 grams black pepper
6 “butterflied” chicken breasts, 180 grams each
Chef’s recommendation: Place baking paper over chicken breasts and pound with mallet until 3mm-thick.
1. Prepare egg batter: Whisk eggs with mustard
2. Mix breadcrumbs with salt and pepper
3. Dip both sides of flattened chicken breasts in plate of flour; tap to rid excess flour
4. Dip into egg batter
5. Drip into breadcrumb mix
6. Fry in vegetable oil until golden on both sides
7. Place on paper towel to soak excess oil