Tucked away — quite literally — in the Modiin industrial park, is Meet & Meat, a restaurant my wife and I visited recently. It had gotten good reviews elsewhere, so we decided to have a taste for ourselves. We called for a reservation, and when we said between 7:00 and 7:30, we were pressed to choose one or the other. So we did.
When we got there, it was empty.
The Meat Experience. That’s what they call their – I suppose “tasting menu” would be the right word for it. For NIS 130, we were treated to four different meats from their menu: assado, chicken breast, entrecote, and duck breast. Over a half kilo of meat! it says on the menu. With a minimum of two people. Which works out to 250 grams, or roughly eight ounces, per person. For a meat restaurant, it didn’t seem like a whole lot of meat.
The meal started with warm bread with two dips: a fresh tomato salsa and garlic mayo. The chimichuri “sauce” was more of a gremolata, but the house tabouleh was pretty good. A large lettuce salad was brought to the table as well, and they offered to refill it during the meal, which we accepted. I would have preferred to be able to fill up on meat instead…
The first dish to arrive was the assado, which was definitely smoked. I tasted it. It was soft, which means it was certainly cooked long enough. But the meat looked dry on the outside. The plate came adored with two halves of a “campfire potato” which had that fire-roasted flavor as well.
The next plate came out. It was the chicken. One single, solitary chicken cutlet, sliced. Seasoned, but I wouldn’t say smoked. And that was it. There was nothing else on the plate. No sprinkle of sumac, no drizzle of sauce, nothing. It was moist, I remember that, but nothing else remarkable.
The entrecote arrived next. Well, that’s what they called it anyway. I wan’t so sure that’s what it was. The grain of the meat was peculiar, and it didn’t have the right shape. It was tasty, a little chewy, but it didn’t have a pronounced smokiness either. Again, with nothing on the plate other than the meat itself.
Finally, the duck breast arrived. I was especially looking forward to the duck. Now, if you know me, you know how much I love duck. But it needs to be prepared in a very particular way. The fat needs to be rendered properly, so you’re not eating too much of it in proportion to the meat. And whatever you do, don’t ever cook it past medium-rare. Because if you do, you get a gamey, liverish piece of meat. Which is what we got. It was a flat out disappointment. I almost didn’t mind that nothing had to share the plate with it.
I wasn’t entirely sure what they were going for in terms of ambiance. On the wall is a double blackboard with notes scribbled from satisfied patrons. Along the privacy partition, empty wine bottles lie neck-to-bottom, which to me seemed like a hazard, especially if someone inadvertently knocked one over onto a table. The lighting is dull yellow. The chairs are distressed leather, which I suspected were artificially distressed to give them more “character”, But they sank in the middle, which would make it uncomfortable to eat if you’re shorter. I honestly can’t remember if there was music or not, but I do remember the necks of the carafes were spotty. Both of them.
The staff was super attentive, which is always a plus for any restaurant. It was easy enough at first, since we showed up early and were the only ones there, but continued throughout the meal, as other patrons arrived.
The chef came over while we were eating and asked how things were. I’m pretty sure he was the chef, since he was wearing the striped chef’s pants that are popular here, but as he didn’t introduce himself, I can’t be 100% certain. I usually don’t have a problem speaking up in a restaurant, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him how I honestly felt.
But that was also before the duck.