Located in the complex of the Azrieli towers, the restaurant Coma 11 (The Eleventh Floor) is situated in the Crown Plaza Hotel. Yesterday, I attended the unveiling of five wines from the Shiloh winery, that hosted at the restaurant. I only rarely write about meals served at such events but, considering my past history with the restaurant, this mini-comment seemed in order.
On my first visit, shortly after the restaurant opened, my first encounter was with the elevator, that with a control panel that seemed more appropriate to me on a Jumbo Jet than in a hotel lobby, the panel needing more than a bit of decoding before I could convince any door to open for me. My second encounter came as the restaurant seemed to have misplaced my reservation and it took me more than a few minutes to convince them that I was worthy of being seated.
My encounter "of a third kind" came after my first course when it became apparent that in this very large physical space there was no place set aside for those who might want a cigarette break. I asked the maitresse d'hotel where I could smoke and she told me that there was a special room for smokers on the lobby floor. I thanked her and started to make my way to the elevator only to be told that I would have to leave my identification card with her. I asked why and was told: "How do we know that you will return to pay your bill?"
I tried to explain that I had no intention whatever of running off without paying for my first course but she insisted. My response, quietly and calmly, was that I would gladly offer my i.d. card to a policeperson on duty, a soldier performing his or her duty, or to a security person if the issue of security was involved. In a quiet huff I made my way to the elevator, got to the ground floor and there wasmet by a hotel security person who accompanied me to the smoking area and stood over me, watching diligently while I had my cigarette.
As to the food, that was acceptable but not at all exciting for a restaurant that was touting itself as one of the best in the country.
I returned yesterday anticipating a somewhat cold reception on entry but to my surprise was greeted warmly by a new maitresse d'hotel, the chef, the assistant CEO of the hotel and others whose titles escaped me.
Despite all, there is still no place to smoke legally except in the lobby. On two occasions I did manage to wander off to a back corridor there to "sneak a smoke" (brought back high school days). At least half a dozen hotel staff walked by, informed me that smoking was not permitted and then after a few words from me, wandering off to wherever it is that hotel staff wander.
As to the food and attitude in general – vast improvements. Our lunch (served to about 20 people) started off with a well made salmon seviche, that on toasted baguette wedges and topped with a lemon cream that had a nice hint of anise. Lovely dish. This was followed by another equally good small portion of pickled sirloin slices, those topped with finely grated tomatoes and Kalamata olives. The last of the first course offerings was truly exceptional, sweetbreads, liver and mushrooms done with a concentrated meat stock, those placed in a long marrow bone that had been halved lengthwise, all served with a sweet potato puree. No tricks, no showing off, but fine in texture, aroma and flavors. My option as a main course was for skewers of sirloin, those coated nicely with crushed pepper, herbs. The beef had a lovely texture, avoided the sin of being overdone, and was as full of flavor as one could want. The dish went down very nicely indeed.
The restaurant itself is attractive in a thoroughly American manner and those dining gave off a quiet buzz of the kind that you hear when people are enjoying themselves. A fixed price lunch menu with plenty of appealing options is offered at NIS 99 (that including first and main course and the house foccaccia). Dinner is more dear and the bill for two including dessert will come to about NIS 350 plus wine and service.
My suggestion – definitely worth trying for lunch and then deciding whether a more expensive evening visit is in the cards for you.
Coma 11: In the Crown Plaza Hotel, Azrieli Center, Tel Aviv. Kosher.