Dining at Helenaby Jenna Romano | 28.12.17
With any destination dining experience, visitors expect to be equally awed by a restaurant’s location as they are with their meal. At Chef Amos Sion’s Helena Restaurant, ideally situated among majestic Herodin-era ruins in the breezy city of Caesarea – you can not have one without the other. Guests sit down inside the pristine, classic interior of Helena and gaze out wall-to-wall glass panes towards Caesarea’s port – capturing the freshness of the meal they are about to embark on.
Effortlessly picturesque, the port is also the source of the locally harvested fish and seafood caught daily and used as a premier ingredient in Chef Sion’s kitchen, in addition to locally grown meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and local wild herbs and plants, indigenous to the Levant.
Since Helena’s opening in 2004, Chef Sion has perfected a discerning Meditteranean menu, reflecting his ability to manifest contemporary versions of local tastes. A crab bisque starter takes the form of a smoothe ‘cappucino’, served with a juicy fried shrimp, and the Vitelle Tonnato – thin slices of veal from the Golan Heights cooked Sous Vide is served with capers straight from the Judean Hills, topped with a tuna dressing and soft-boiled egg. Wine lovers will be delighted with the opportunity to choose from an assorted, yet bespoke menu, using the staff’s sophisticated knowledge to pair the right local grapes with each dish.
As the meal continues to open your palate’s curiosity, main dishes are served – fresh scallop and shrimp boldly balanced with Arak sauce, Kalamata olives, celery and Halloumi cheese, mussels doused in homemade cider, bacon and Pink Lady apples, and Drum fillet in porcini cream sauce, served with mushrooms and orzo pasta.
Helena’s dessert menu underscores the sweetness of local influences – Arab Knaffe of local goat cheese and pears cooked in local Muscat wine, and homemade tehina ice cream sprinkled with the perfect amount of date syrup atop a pastry with halva threads.
Is it worth the trip outside of Tel Aviv? Absolutely. As if the food and views are not enough to entice you, the comradery of co-owners Chef Sion and culinary legend Uri Buri certainly will. Their joined passion, which is shared with the staff and guests, is what creates and culminates any experience at Helena Restaurant.