Harlem’s Israeli Chef Who Makes French Cuisine

August 30, 2017

Haaretz reports that over the past 10 years, Harlem – or at least parts of it – has undergone dramatic changes.

Harlem has become a haven for hipsters banished by high real estate prices elsewhere.One of the most popular magnets for the “foreigners” is South Harlem, up Central Park West.

Not far from there, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near 112th and 113th streets, the Israeli chef Kfir Ben-Ari has opened his French restaurant RDV, short for Rendezvous. A few blocks farther on Frederick Douglass is his coffee shop Caféine.

RDV, which opened eight months ago, is a modern French bistro specializing in southeastern French cuisine. At Caféine, Ben-Ari brings his baked goods from the Champagne region, he won’t say exactly where. You can find croissants, pain au chocolat, apple pastry and savory croissants.

Despite all the French chic, at RDV and Caféine you’ll hear non-stop Hebrew. In addition to Ben-Ari there are the brothers Adam, Din and Ran Elnatan, who wait tables and often switch back and forth between the two eateries. Rinat Brodach also waits tables. When she’s not there, she’s a fashion designer. No doubt the Israeli gastronomic invasion has reached Harlem.

RDV isn’t very big. The color scheme is white and turquoise, or more precisely, Napoli blue, and it seats only 32 people, with six more places at the bar. The food is good, the atmosphere pleasant. I had a very good kale salad, with the kale chopped small, and an orange vinaigrette dressing with toasted pumpkin seeds, fennel, white peach in a marjoram marinade, grilled garlic and goat cheese wrapped in a seared Provencal herb wrap.

Editor for Harlem World Magazine.

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